Monthly Archives: July 2008

A Father and His Fallen Son

Today I was doing some research on Jim Ellifritt, one of our ministers who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves. A Google search led me to a page where his son, also a reservist (while Jim Sr. was in Afghanistan, Jim Jr. was in Iraq), commented on a fellow soldier who was killed in Iraq. weisenburg.jpgArmy Staff Sgt. David J. Weisenburg, 26 (right) died from a roadside bomb on September 13, 2004.

On the Fallen Heroes Memorial site, people can comment on soldiers who have died serving their country. In browsing through the comments about Weisenburg, I came across one signed simply “Dad.”

Today is David’s birthday. He should be turning 30, I wonder on days like today what he would be like if he had made it back. What would he be doing now, where would he be working, living? How the war would have affected him? There is something special about turning 30, but maybe I feel even more strongly about that, because he never will. I will grow older, his mother will grow older, his brothers and sister, but David will forever be 26 and this changes so many things.

His brothers and sister have all met someone special, gotten married and brought more life into our family. There are 2 more sisters, another brother, a granddaughter and soon a grandson. But we will never get to embrace into our family that someone special in David’s life. This is another loss that no one tells you about when they come knock on your door.

But, I think that I will change my mind, today IS David’s birthday, today David IS 30. He IS, and forever will be my son whom I love with a passion that I can not explain. I walk tall and proud because I have been blessed with such a special man for a son. Time and a distance that cannot be traveled separate us for now, but I will see him again and we will celebrate together. Until then, Happy Birthday my son.


Here is a newspaper article about David’s death. He served four years as a chaplain’s assistant, same as my Dad in the 1950s.

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This Made Me Smile

From Chris Elrod, a church planter and former Christian comedian in Florida: “I could care less what the ‘experts’ or books say about small groups. We’ve read them…been to the conferences…and they’ve ALL been wrong for us.”

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Cultural Christianity

Dave Datema, on his blog, pointed people to a post by Tim Timmons from a year ago. He said it was long, but worth reading. Yes, it was extremely long. And yes, well worth the time.

Timmons talks about we spread cultural Christianity throughout the world, more than we spread a relationship with Jesus. People are “converted to Christianity,” rather than to citizenship in the Kingdom of the heart.

It’s quite a thought-provoding piece, and I found myself disagreeing with nothing he said.

This from a guy who has not only spent his life serving in institutional Christianity, but serving the interests of a subspecies of Christianity called United Brethrenism. We, like all other subspecies, sometimes grow churches by stealing from other folds. People are converted to United Brethrenism from Catholicism, Church of Godism, Nazarenism, Baptistism. Because there are specific United Brethren ways of doing things, United Brethren theological nuances, United Brethren structures and practices.

How much are we teaching United Brethrenism, as opposed to the Kingdom which Jesus taught–a relationship with Jesus; a relationship that enabled a Samaritan woman and a Roman centurion to remain in their cultures, yet be transformed?

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The Wisdom of Sisters

This is from my brother Rick’s blog.

A couple nights ago as I was tucking him in, Cameron said he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be one of those “war people” that fights battles. He wanted to lead the way and be up front.
Anna told him, “Uh, you will die. Who do you think gets shot first? The person up front…DUH.” Cameron thought about this for a minute then said, “Well, I guess I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

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No Money to Work With

George Bush inherited a $128 billion surplus. The White House now projects a record $490 billion deficit for 2009. The Bush Administration has posted a budget deficit every year since taking office. This will be his gift to Obama or McCain, both of whom, I’m sure, will be thrilled to not have the opportunities that Bush had with abundance (and squandered).

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The Joker’s Deleted Scenes

When “The Dark Knight” hits DVD, I’ll bet sales are amazing. It’ll contain “previously unseen footage of Heath Ledger’s last performance.” Stuff that didn’t make it into the theatrical release. And a few years down the road, there’ll come a director’s cut with even more deleted Joker scenes. Yes, they can milk this a long way. But would Hollywood do that? You betcha.

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Saw Batman on Saturday

Wow. Great movie. And like everyone else, I was blown away by Heath Ledger’s Joker. I kept trying to see Heath Ledger, the guy from “The Patriot” and “A Knight’s Tale,” but he was unrecognizable. Totally disappeared into the character. The take on Two-Face was interesting, too.

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Fun in the Yard

Did a lot more yardwork Friday and Saturday. Placed a layer of block around a little island thing in the back yard. Got 50 blocks from Menards, and they didn’t go very far–just one layer. Hauled in a couple loads of dirt and a load of mulch. Good exercise.

Jordi and Molly liked having my red pickup in the back yard. Very curious about it. Sniffed all around, climbed all over it. (Click the photo for a larger view of the cats.)

You can see Molly walking along the blocks which my nephew Logan helped us lay two weeks ago. The kids are forbidden to go along the side of the house, but they can’t help themselves.

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Teen Purity Balls

purityball_250.jpgNancy Gibbs, one of Time magazine’s ace reporters, wrote a superb piece called “The Pursuit of Teen Girl Purity.” It told about “purity balls,” Cinderella-ish events attended by fathers and daughters that stress the role of the father in a young girl’s life, and encourage abstinence and responsibility on the part of girls.

I’d never heard of purity balls, but they seem like a worthy thing. And the type of thing that the mainstream media might savage. But Nancy Gibbs wrote a very fair, positive article. She poo-pooed the criticism “dressed up in social science.”

One story, about a man who was there with three of his daughters, made my eyes tear up. He had had nine children by seven women. An older daughter, now an adult, said, “It’s great for girls to have a Cinderella night with Dad, but families still need a good strong father role model. I didn’t have that….But my siblings do. He really stepped up to the plate. He’s a great dad now. I say that with a tinge of jealousy.” Her father has inoperable lung cancer. “He won’t be at their wedding,” she said, referring to her young siblings, “but they can look back and remember the dance they had tonight.”

Gibbs’s last few paragraphs are superb as she talks about the critics vs. the advocates of purity balls.

Culture war, by its nature, pours salt in wounds, finds division where there could be common purpose. “Purity” is certainly a loaded word–but is there anyone who thinks it’s a good idea for 12-year-olds to have sex? Or a bad idea for fathers to be engaged in the lives of their daughters and promise to practice what they preach? Parents won’t necessarily say this out loud, but isn’t it better to set the bar high and miss than not even try?
There is no evidence that giving kids complete and accurate information about sex and contraception encourages promiscuity. On the other, a purity pledge basically says sex is serious. That it’s not to be entered into recklessly. To deny kids information, whether about contraception or chastity, is irresponsible.

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The Evangelical Suburban Infatuation

Here are two thoughts from Gary Lamb, whose blog I just started following. He’s a church planter in Canton, Ga., a town of 20,000. He has a heart for small towns. His church is starting a new church in a town of 7,000, and is looking at three other towns of less than 15,000.

“Why does everyone want to only go to white-collar suburbs or college towns to plant churches? We would rather plant where there are 20 others churches as opposed to going to urban and rural areas. Romans 10:14 haunts me here.”

Since you’re wondering what Romans 10:14 says, here it is: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

I occasionally harp about the evangelical lovefest for the suburbs (like here and here). We want to go where there is growth, and that always means those former corn fields on the city’s edge being turned into tree-less housing developments for the middle class.

This ties in nicely with this next thought from Lamb:

“It can’t be all about numbers. Trust me, I am a number freak but it has to be about community impact. A church of 500 in a town of 16,000 will have a stronger community impact than a church of 5,000 in a city of 250,000.”

It’s the big fish, small pond deal. Anchor is a church of 100, and we can kick our low-esteemed butts all the way to Timbuktu for being so infinitesimal. But the number 100 in no way represents the number of people whose lives we’ve influenced during the past ten years. We’ve made a difference in our urban community, and our presence makes that community better.

Meanwhile, a bunch of megachurches ring the city, with multi-million-dollar facilities, well-groomed kids, amazing Sunday services, and other good things. And people drive for an hour to get there. But quite often, these churches are regional. There is no community. No town they are making better. They’re still doing good work. But I wish The Church could see the value of going into poorer parts of the city, as opposed to trying to attract those people to our suburban cathedrals.

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