Archive for March, 2012

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Brynn’s Graduation

03/29/2012

We recently had a graduation ceremony for Brynn and Esan upon finishing kindergarten. It was lots of fun.We wanted grandparents and cousins to be able to see it, so here you go. I had to edit chunks of it because the file was so big, but this captures most of it. (Sorry Esan for cutting out your part.)

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Heroes of the Faith

03/27/2012

I recently read an article in Relevant magazine from Rachel Held Evans about the tendency in American Christianity to create “celebrity pastors.” It was a fine article, and a relevant (pun intended) topic to discuss, but what caught my attention was the unexamined assumption behind the topic. In the article, Evans lists the following pastors as the examples of “celebrity pastors”: Ted Haggard, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, John Piper, Francis Chan, Bill Hybels, and Joyce Meyers. These are the ministers, exemplars of the faith, people look up to so much that, if not careful, it can turn into celebrity status. What’s fascinating to me is all these pastors are known primarily for their speaking and writing skills. Apparently, and I have noticed this trend before the article, the measure for becoming an exemplar in the faith today is whether or not you are good with words. This is not only the case for “celebrity pastors” but is often true for local churches. If you speak well, then people look up to you. If you write well, then people want to follow you. A good pastor is articulate.

Now, no one enjoys a good sermon or book or lecture more than me. My stance is not that words are unimportant; they are extremely important. But, I am interested in trying to shift the standard back towards behavior and lifestyle. In other words, why aren’t our “celebrity pastors,” the heroes of the faith, the ones who are radically following the Way of Jesus in how they live their lives and inviting others to join them? This seems to be closer to how the early church talked about the exemplars around them. Take, as an example, the church’s first great minister and theologian—Paul. It is obvious from his letters (see the Corinthian correspondence) he was not the greatest of orators. He did write some good letters, but the richness of his ministry came as much from living out “Christ and Him crucified” as it did from preaching “Christ and Him crucified.” This is why Paul can urge the Corinthians to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1)

I wonder what would happen if we started following pastors as much as we listened to them? What would happen if ministers were primarily known for what they did between Monday and Saturday? What would happen if congregants were more like apprentices than audience members? What if we started honoring and imitating people who pick up their crosses daily and follow Christ, not just those who talk about it. My hunch is that our churches would become God’s people sent into the world.

Once again, I think words really matter. I think they are vitally important. But, I think they become even more valuable once they are made flesh.

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Why Life Here is Good

03/26/2012

Phayao people are extremely hospitable and love to share a meal together. We have seen this throughout our time here, but we experienced a great example of this recently.

The other day we made plans for Pet and Nid, our good friends who sell the best grilled chicken and sticky rice in town, to come over for dinner. We knew it was Pet’s birthday, so Ann offered for us to grill out at our house. As the day got closer, we invited our close friends Nong and Lek and their two boys to join us as well. We bought a cake for the event, and I prepared some kabobs to grill out. We then invited Ryan and Ning to join us, and Ryan decided to grill some bacon wrapped shrimp (they were unbelievable!). We figured it would just be a relaxed evening with a small group of friends.

That evening, as we prepared the food, Nong and Lek’s family came first, soon followed by our friend P’Nuu and her son. A few minutes later Pet and Nid came with their two daughters, Nid’s mom, and their niece. The Binkleys showed up, and our house was filling up. We prepared the food and laid it out on mats on our living room floor. As we began to eat, our landlady stopped by for a quick visit and ended up staying for an hour. And, finally, our neighbor Fai came over because she wanted to hold Dax. She had no idea that we had a full house but, without any hesitation, joined in the party. Our small living room was brimming with people, good food, and fun conversation. The kids played while the adults ate slowly and enjoyed being together, even though some did not know each other beforehand. I love how a small gathering can explode and turn into a great evening of fun and fellowship for friends and strangers alike. There really is something beautiful about how a meal can be a place for open invitation and deepening of relationships. And the ease in which this can happen in Thailand is truly a gift.