Monthly Archives: October 2007

Dancing with Democracy

Dancing with the Stars is now a joke. No way should Sabrina have gotten voted off. She was consistently near the top. The judges were astounded. But alas, she lacked the fan base of Jane Seymour and Marie Osmond. The people voted…and, though clearly the best dancer, she wasn’t the most popular.

American Idol has seen its share of injustices, but nothing on this scale.

Democracy has its place. Iraq may or may not be one such place. Determining who goes and who stays on Dancing with the Stars–definitely not something you let “the people” decide.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Twitter – Too Much Information About Me

I joined the Twitter craze. It enables you to keep people micro-informed about your doings. For instance, that you’re getting ready for work, and now you’re driving to work, and now you’re checking your email, and now it’s break time…little postings throughout the day.

When I first heard about Twitter, I deemed it terribly stupid and intrusive. But some other Communications people I know are messing with it, and merely posting something once a day. And it is, I must confess, just slightly interesting.

So I signed up, and installed the code on my blog (over on the right). Now, this page is kinda like two blogs–one with my major postings, which generally occur at least every few days, and then my Twitter postings. FYI, there are three ways I can post: from the Twitter website, using a Dashboard Widget called Twidget, and directly from iChat as an instant message. Convenient.

I’m not enamored with Twitter, and not advocating that you climb aboard. I’ll do the Twitter thing until I decide my first impressions are correct–that it is, indeed, a stupid time-waster–and then I’ll delete it. But for now, I’m tweeting.

Share Button
Leave a comment

At People’s Church in Nashville

Last Sunday, Pam and I attended The People’s Church in Franklin, Tenn., basically a suburb of Nashville. It was the last thing we did on vacation, before heading home. Just a month before, I had attended the MinistryCOM conference, which was hosted by The People’s Church. I thought it would be neat to actually attend a service there. So we attended the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, and the next morning attended a Music City church service.

It was a great experience. I loved the service, loved the music, loved the message. But first, let me back up and give you a negative first impression.

We arrived around 8:50, with the service scheduled to start at 9:15. Interestingly, nobody greeted us. Nobody said a word to us. I stood in the lobby for a bit, and I might as well not have existed. I picked up some literature at an information booth, and the lady sitting there said hello, but that’s it.

When we entered the sanctuary at 9:00, only a few people were there. We found a seat toward the front. A few more people gradually filtered in. But by 9:10, the place still seemed rather empty. But the worship team came out at 9:15, we sang a few songs, and suddenly I realized that the place was well-filled with people. And I realized, “That’s the way it works at Anchor—only a few people come early, a bunch of people settle in right at starting time, and they keep coming through the first couple of songs. Why should a Nashville church be any different?”

The worship team, led by Integrity artist Michael Neale, was outstanding. I’d heard the scaled-down version at MinistryCOM; on Sunday, there were seven singers and six instrumentalists. We sang about five songs, and I’m pretty sure we stood the whole time. Neale’s song “More and More” blew me away. Drop what you’re doing (which is, reading this blog), go to the iTunes store, and download that song right now. While you’re at it, do the rest of his album. Good stuff.

Neale introduced the pastor for the sermon. Two large doors on the side of the stage opened, and out he came driving a golf cart. Fast. The new sermon series was titled “Stuff,” and it deals with possessions. The stage was set up elaborately to go along with the theme.

Pastor Rick White gave a superb message. The message was being broadcast to another church site, and to the “chapel” at People’s Church (where a choir provided music–obviously, the “traditional” service). I’d love to hear the rest of the series, because it’s an important topic (the contemporary church, I contend, is blind to how thoroughly it has bought into materialism). Here are the four titles.

  • October 21: Who Owns This Stuff (1 Chronicles 29).
  • October 28: How are We to Use Our Stuff? (Luke 16).
  • November 4: Overcoming the Fear of Losing Our Stuff (2 Corinthians 9).
  • November 11: How the People’s Church Uses Our Stuff.

After the offering, Pastor White directed out attention to the baptistry on the side of the sanctuary. A woman, probably a staff minister, introduced and baptized a white woman and a black woman, both coincidentally named Ashley Nicole. Then Pastor White took her place and baptized a young girl. It was neat. Only the baptizees were in the water; the ministers stood behind the water tank, reaching over to dunk the person. It’s always neat seeing baptisms.

The service ended, and we exited the sanctuary. There had been a “greeting time” early in the service, during which Pam and I shook a few hands and got a few “Welcome, glad to have you, blah blah blah.” But beyond that, nobody in the sanctuary said a word to us, and we made it out to our car without anyone saying a word. Strange, very strange. Maybe it’s intentional strategy; I’m not getting bent out of shape about it, because I realize we got only a small snapshot of what I know is a growing, vibrant church. This is a church that’s doing some real good things. Maybe we just caught them on a bad day.

You can watch the service online. The October 21 service is the one we attended. At least listen to the music; Michael Neale is a gifted worship leader. But then, you should also listen to the message. And check out the set decoration.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Latest Chinese Toy Recall


Another Chinese toy that, after several months of US government study, was ordered to be recalled. Thanks to Brian Magnus for alerting me to this.

Share Button
Leave a comment

It’s Good to be Missed

Pam and I had a meeting at church tonight. About a dozen people were there. It’s the first “church” thing we’ve had since returning from vacation. And almost every person there, upon seeing us, said “Welcome back,” or “We missed you” or “How was your trip?”

We were missed. We were really missed. That’s not necesssarily the case in some churches; you can be gone for several weeks, and people say, “Oh, you went somewhere? I didn’t know that.”

Makes me appreciate Anchor all the more.

Share Button
Leave a comment

The Cherokee Llama Bed & Breakfast

That’s me with some of the llamas at the Cherokee Llama B&B. The llamas always acted like they were ready to spit. Kept me on edge.

Pam and I did something new last week on vacation: we stayed at a bed & breakfast. Two of them, in fact. I’ve been interested in B&Bs for a long time, but we’ve always gone the corporate route (Hampton, Fairfield, etc.). But for this getaway in Tennessee, I searched for B&Bs in remote mountain locations where we could kick back and relax. I found two such places.

We started with the Cherokee Llama B&B near Jonesborough in eastern Tennessee. The description said they had actual llamas, two cats, and four dogs. From the pictures, I knew at least three of the dogs were labs. I love dogs, but our lifestyle isn’t conducive to giving dogs the attention they need, which is why we have cats. But I loved the idea of being able to romp with some labs for a couple of days.

The B&B was located up a long drive, which went between two pastures–the four male llamas on the left, the girls on the right. As we pulled up to the two-story brick house, the four dogs emerged from their doggy door, barking. Three were labs–the tan Amber, black Abi, and chocolate Brady. Then there was old and gray Sam, a non-lab of indeterminate breed who didn’t move too quickly but was a friendly fellow.

Jennifer, the innkeeper, came out to greet us and show us around the property. She’s a former lawyer with a very impressive and varied resume (state supreme court, attorney general’s office, state prosecutor’s office, private practice). She introduced us to the dogs, to Rocky the cat, to the trails surrounding the house, and to our lovely room on the second floor. We had a lovely porch overlooking the hills and the land housing the male llamas, plus comfortable chairs sitting under some pine trees in the yard. Several trails curved through the property.

We stayed two nights. Also arriving that night was Russ, a young fellow from New York City who was installed computer equipment for Embarq in nearby Johnson City. He was a big fan of B&Bs. We enjoyed getting to know him and, on our final morning, walking the trails with him and seeing the llamas. Amber and Abi walked with us, though they chased off into the woods on sniffing sprees.

The breakfasts were wonderful. Each morning, two carafes of coffee (decaf and regular) awaited me downstairs). I would pour me a cup, go track down a dog or cat, and then sit out in the early morning on a chair reading. Nice.

Jennifer and her husband, Charlie, a builder, were great hosts and downright interesting people. Charlie sported a short ponytail. On Monday afternoon we sat out on the porch chatting for quite a while; Jennifer brought us delicious apple cake and ice cream.

We stayed Sunday night, and on Monday took a trip into Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee. It was nothing special. I preferred when we returned to the inn and just sat around reading. That was relaxing, especially with Rocky and the dogs at our sides. The dogs couldn’t get enough attention. And that’s exactly what I wanted.

Here are some photos. Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version.

The Cherokee Llama Bed & Breakfast sits on a hill behind a bunch of trees. Very peaceful setting. The two guestrooms are on the upper floor, and the door on this porch is the entrance to the guest area.
Russ with the male llamas. They made sounds like they were getting ready to spit, as llamas are known to do. But they mainly spit at each other. None of us got nailed.
Pam with Rocky, one of the two cats. Rocky spent a great deal of time laying on me as I read. He still has his front claws, which left little puncture marks and mini-scratched all across my shoulders, chest, and belly. I told Jennifer that if Rocky turned up missing, it was because I snuck him into a suitcase.
I loved these dogs. They soaked up all the attention I would give them. They also accompanied us as we hiked the trails.
Rocky was interested in climbing into our trunk as we prepared to leave.
Russ with Abi and Amber, and Sam off to the right. Grady, the chocolate lab, hung around but didn’t want to be petted. He’d been abused before coming to live with Jennifer and Charlie.
Share Button
Leave a comment

Five Traffic Jams

We made it home. Finally.

We attended church in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday morning and started back for what should have been a seven-hour trip. A nice, casual Sunday drive, right?

We took I-65 north. About 30 miles from Louisvile, Kent., we hit a major logjam caused by an accident. We were stuck for an hour. Traffic finally got moving. After about 20 minutes, I pulled off at an exit to let Pam drive. But as we headed back onto the highway, things were backed up again. Just beyond the exit another accident had occurred. If I hadn’t pulled off there, we would have been long past before the accident occurred.

This time, we consulted a roadmap and found a suitable detour which eventually reconnected us with I-65. We cruised into southern Indiana. But about 30 minutes from Indianapolis, we hit another logjam, which tied us up for another 30 minutes or so. We took an exit and found a detour. It took us through some towns and was slow driving, but at least we were moving.

So that was traffic jam number 3. Between Anderson and Muncie, we hit number 4. Back to a full stop. Things finally got moving, but another 15 minutes and we were stopped again.

Five traffic jams on the same highway I had taken a month earlier, when I had a conference in Nashville.

So our seven-hour trip ended up being over 11 hours. But we made it, and Molly and Jordi were excited to see us. And we them.

Share Button
Leave a comment

At the Grand Ole Opry

Tonight Pam and I went to the Grand Ole Opry here in Nashville. That was a neat experience. Neither of us are avid country fans, but like country music enough to enjoy something like this.

Tonight, the 82nd birthday of the Grand Ole Opry, they began broadcasting it live on the GAC cable channel. The show lasted 2.5 hours, 6:30 – 9:00, but only the 7-8:00 portion was broadcast on TV. It was interesting watching the camera work. One boom camera circled right above us.

The line-up for the televised part included Carry Underwood, Travis Tritt, Emerson Drive, and Ronnie Milsap. That’s a pretty high-powered bunch. Carrie Underwood, the reigning Country Female Artist of the Year, did the most sings, five. Emerson Drive did 3 or 4, Travis did just 2, and Ronnie Milsap, our least favorite, did three. I’m sure you wanted to know the song count of each. Always glad to provide the information my readers seek.

The non-televised portions included some people I’d never heard of, and two I had: Hal Ketchum and Vince Gill. Lots of good bluegrass. A fun, new experience for us.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Quest Community Church

On Sunday, we attended Quest Community Church, a fast-growing, outreach-oriented church we had become familiar with through a media conference. The church started in 1999 and now runs about 2700 people, most of it conversion growth. Pam and I occasionally listened to MP3 sermons by Pete Hise, the pastor. He’s easy to listen to.

They hold four services each weekend, all identical (one on Saturday night). We targeted the 10:22 service (yes, that was the advertised time), which is also broadcast to “V2” (video venue) and live on the web.

The church doesn’t look like a church. More like a converted warehouse, we decided, as we sat in the gravel parking lot. Actually, it was a former indoor sports facility (bowling, indoor soccer, video arcade, all kinds of stuff) which they bought and converted.

The 9 a.m. service was showing on monitors all over the lobby, and even one in the bathroom. As we waited, a man with a namebadge approached us, introduced himself, and struck up a conversation. Very natural. We talked to him for a while, and he told us lots about the church. After he left, after some time elapsed, another fellow came and talked to us. Not just a cursory greeting, but spent major time talking. Both of these greeters were leaders in the church. And they were genuinely passionate about their church, and particulary about all the people they were winning to Christ.

Signs hung around the lobby, advertising the current “Revolution” sermon series; this was the last of six weeks. Thus far, 250 people had come to Christ through this series. Wow.

I was surprised at the sanctuary, located on the upper level. Much smaller than I expected. Maybe 400 movie-style seats, max, arranged in a sideways orientation, maybe 12 rows deep. Huge platform. As we entered (with the 9 a.m. service quickly emptying through another door), a countdown on the screen showed less than four minutes. They move people in and out quickly. You don’t hang around and chat in the sanctuary after services.

The band came out, and the music leader, a woman, invited us all to stand. We sang a song I didn’t recognize; I think it was called “Ignite.” Then she had us sit down. That was the only song we would sing. From then on, it was more like a concert, with the band singing to us. And they were good. They did three more songs, each with a different lead singer. One, I learned later, was a Van Halen song. They did Chris Daughtry’s “I’m Comin’ Home.” And one other–and this one was spectacular. It had a lot of rap influence, but was actual singing. Everyone on stage was jumping and moving. Maybe a Tobymac song, I don’t know. But I’ve never seen anything like it in a church service. It was amazing. I loved it. And so did the crowd.

At our national conference in May, someone, on a comment card, complained about the “gyrating” by the leader of one of the two worship teams we used. The “gyrating” consisted of periodically dropping one foot back and leaning back. This person, had he/she been at Quest on Sunday, would have run screaming from the service, banging fists against her/his head, certain that the devil himself was giving chase.

“I’m Comin’ Home” was actually the last song. Just before it, we heard a testimony. A 30-ish man, bald, tall and lean, sat on a stool with a microphone. I thought he was one of the pastors, at first. But then he began telling his story. A story of being called “fag” and “queer” and worse as a kid, being given “an identity I didn’t want,” but then, starting as a teen, descending into the gay lifestyle. In the church and at school he found no acceptance. But in the gay community, he did find acceptance. He lived that life for a number of years, yet felt the proverbial emptiness. Through a variety of circumstances, he ended up at Quest 14 months ago and gave Jesus control of his life. It was a powerful testimony.

Pete Hise, the founding pastor, is a superb communicator. Energetic. Humorous. Creative. He used a bunch of different props, some of which people brought onstage, behind him, as he spoke (which means he was following a script closely, and things had been planned out very well). Very well done. He led up to a presentation of the gospel, but in a way designed specifically for people in 2007.

For response, he had people lower their heads and asked people to raise a hand if they wanted to give their lives to Christ. About 20 people in that service did. He invited them to a certain room immediately after the service, so he could talk to them and serve them communion.

How cool is that? People accept Christ, and right away you serve them communion. I’d never heard of that.

It was an enormous thrill to take part in that service. An enormous thrill to see a church being the church, hitting on all cylinders.

Share Button

No Room in Lexington

Pam and I are on vacation. We turned over the house to Allen, Carolyn, and Connor, and headed south to Kentucky and Tennessee. Our first stop, last Saturday, was Lexington, Kent. That was the only stop where I hadn’t reserved a place to stay. I figured we’d get to Lexington and have no trouble finding a motel room.

But, before leaving, I decided to reserve something anyway, just in case. So I checked various places online–no rooms available. Hmmm. I called a Ramada Limited. No rooms. “Is anything big happening in Lexington this weekend?” I asked the girl.

“The LSU and Kentucky football game is today,” she told me.

Okay, that explained it. Number 1 Louisiana State was in town. So I backed up all the way to Florence, just across the river from Cincinnati. That would leave a mere 90-minute drive to Lexington the next morning for church.

Must have been quite a game. Triple overtime. Kentucky wins. The town went nuts. Always a basketball town, they had now discovered that football could be just as thrilling.

Share Button
Leave a comment

Page 1 of 212

Receive Posts by Email

If you subscribe to my Feedburner feed, you'll automatically receive new posts by email. Very convenient.



Monthly Archives