Saturday, April 28, 2007

an nfl draft day prayer...

Today they sit themselves down for the draft
Each team with figures, and legers, and drafts
They’ve taken their 40 times, bench presses too
All in the hopes that one might come through
But I have just one wish, just one wish I pray
Please don’t let Peterson live by the bay
I’m not talking Wisconson, or Florida down South
I’m talking of Cleveland, with all the loudmouths
Cleveland, the one with the Championship drought
This is my prayer Lord, thank you, I’m out.

p.s. If you could send him to Pittsburgh, I’d be especially greatful!

original words by Timothy Miller, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma Sooners Fan!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dr. Hunter's reply...

Hi Timothy:

Numerically, in the USA, the Salvation Army would not be a "major"denomination, but if they were--the generalization would be valid--bothin the USA and much of the rest of the world. The "Sallys"admittedly do more ministry to outsiders than almost anyone, but their capacity and intentionality in evangelism has slipped enormously. I have led seminars in "Evangelism 101" for Salvation Army officers in Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Moldova for this very reason. They are trying to recover the Apostolic priority.

I am grateful you liked my Celtic project.

Power to you,

George Hunter

(My response to him...)

Thank you very much for that sir.

I wanted to get your feedback before I let on that I too am a Sally though I've only been a Sally for about eight years and was raised, ordained and served in the southern baptist church before that. What's interesting is that I left the baptist church and joined the army because I believed it to be a place where we could easily reach lost people based on our social action interests. I find that outsiders find authenticity in that, and don't have much time for churches who are only interested in themselves. But, as you've suggested, a church with a heart for evangelism is not what I found. In fact, I found a church that wanted nothing more than to be like all the other churches with their traditions and Sunday morning meetings. I have stuck with the Army because I believe that were we to ever get back to our mission, we would be an extremely relevant church in this day and age.

(Dr. Hunter's response...)

Hi Timothy:

Your instincts are right on; the Army could be an impresive redemptive force.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

evangelism...not always a dirty word pt. 1

I have a book that I constantly refer back to called The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by Geroge G. Hunger III. In it he makes the following statement;

“No major denomination in the Western world regards apostolic ministry to pre-Christian outsiders as its priority or even as normal ministry.”

I happen to think that that statement is fairly accurate but wonder what others might think about it and whether or not it is accurate in light of their own denomination.

I’ve actually contacted Dr. Hunter to get his response concerning the Salvation Army. Does he consider this statement to be true about the Army and, if so, is it because he doesn’t consider us a “major denomination” or is it something else? I’ll let you know when and if I hear back from him.

Again, how do YOU respond to this statement?

Monday, April 23, 2007

envoy for pointing out the obvious

I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves, "Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment."
Kurt Vonnegut

Hahaha. That quote made me laugh.

Speaking of disorder, I got to spend tonight at one of my favorite youth groups in London. They’re actually more of a youth congregation, and they inexplicably tend to draw in a lot of street kids. Tonight a homeless man, a regular from what I gathered, joined this congregation of young people as we discussed the topic of dating and marriage. A questionnaire was handed out that was meant to make the point that we must not assume anything in a relationship, and that we must communicate. It hoped to make the point by asking what tasks people intended to perform in their marriage (such as tending the garden, changing fuses, doing laundry, etc.), and which tasks they expected their spouse to perform. So here we are, asking these questions, and filling out this survey, when this homeless man looks up and says, “Let me ask you a question, any of you people ever heard of equality.” Hahahaha. Nothing makes me happier than people in a church service who haven’t been taught “how to act” in a church service.

So I’m reading this book called The Gospel According to Moses; What my Jewish friends taught me about Jesus. It’s a good book and, only a chapter and a half into it, has already been pretty challenging to my safe little world.

One of the ideas this guy proposes is that God actually chose to limit himself through his creation and the laws of the universe that he set up and that, to this day, God is limited. So with that in mind, and according to the laws of the universe which he set up (including what we call “free will”), God cannot step in to keep things like the holocaust from happening because, to do it, He would have to end the universe as we know it. Thus he keeps the rules in place and allows us to choose to do right or wrong. He further suggests that it is “free will” that allows emotions to exist in the first place and that, without “free will”, there would be no emotions. In other words, if we had no choice over what we did, we would be more like machines or a droid, doing good simply because there is no other choice, no other option. I’m not sure that I’ve done a very good job of summing up this guy’s thoughts on the matter, but I have enjoyed the read so far and found this particular explanation of “free will” a really good way of putting it.

A friend of mine (and his family) were over for lunch Saturday. I won’t post his name, but he is a fellow blogger. He said several things that had me laughing, including his suggestion that our denomination needs a position entitled Envoy for Pointing out the Obvious. This position would exist simply to point out the obvious problems that nobody else was willing to admit. I got a good chuckle out of that one but also agreed that there is a deep, DEEP need for that in our denomination. Somebody simply to bring up the hot pink elephant in the room that nobody else was willing to acknowledge. Then again, all churches and denominations probably need one of those.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I have to be honest with you, Rome wasn’t that great. At least not for me. Don’t get me wrong, it had its moments, as well as thin crust pizza so thin that it could better be described as a large cracker with toppings. Just the way I like it. But mostly, Rome was a crowded, very touristy city, with some old and amazing artefacts, and quite a few guys dressed up as Roman soldiers who charged you $5 Euros to get your picture taken with them. Not exactly the romantic city I had envisioned.

The trip started with us being picked up by the guy (American/Aussie) whose apartment we were renting. The first words out of his mouth were, “Jesus Christ, what took you so long!” Nice. On our ride to the apartment, he went on to describe just how awful Rome was, and just how worse it had gotten since they “let in the towel heads”. The guy was a modern day Archie Bunker minus the irony.

Upon exiting his 4x4 (in Rome ?), we were greeted by the smell of cat urine and a mould infestation the likes of which I’ve never seen and hope to never see again. We spent the first night choking and praying to the god of toxic mould disease not to take us before we had maxed out our credit card! The next day we opened up all of the doors and windows, bought some spray cleaner with bleach, and promised ourselves never again to use a website that did not include reviews.

But again, it did have its moments.

One of those moments came one evening after a full day of being herded through Rome’s finest. I had decided to get out and clear my lungs, and had decided to do it by taking a walk up the long hill that our apartment rested on. Being American, this in itself was a magnanimous decision for me. Atop the hill sat a small café that served drinks and assorted pastries. So there I stood, drinking my Italian coffee, looking out over Rome, and watching the sun set in about forty-five seconds. All while I listened to Metallica. I couldn’t tell you why I was listening to Metallica. A little pent up frustration perhaps? Or maybe I was just hoping that the music might travel through my ears and, quite literally, shake the fungus loose from my lungs. Either way, I stood watching the sun set over Rome while Wherever I May Roam pounded in my head. And then I noticed him. An Italian guy, standing just to my left, and giving me the “I like to rock too” head nod. He made his way over and asked what I was listening to. I asked the same. Turned out he was listening to a band that he had discovered only about a year and a half ago, but which he had fallen in love with. That band was U2 (cue the angel choir and beam of light), and thus began a good conversation. It turned out that the man’s actual name was Amadeo Dylan. Can you imagine that? Mozart and Bob Dylan all in one name? Then, during the course of the conversation, the heavens actually split open and the man asked me my top five. I had met a brother. It was a good conversation. God bless you Amadeo, wherever you may roam.

On Saturday, after being totally disappointed with the city of Rome (and the Vatican praise band, which left a lot to be desired), we decided to rent a car and drive up the Italian coast, and quite possibly over to the city of Assisi. There was no real reason to go to Assisi, except that I would be able to slip it into sermons for the rest of my life, and that would make me deep and well traveled. I have to tell you, like leaving London and seeing the rest of England, the Italian countryside is nothing at all like Rome. It is beautiful, charming, and everything you think the Italian countryside is going to be like. At one point we were driving along when we saw a sign for a restaurant that pointed down a small road that led into the forest. We were ready for lunch, so we decided to check it out. After several bends we eventually came out into a clearing where there was a beach, a castle, and a small Italian seafood restaurant. And while I can’t say that I will ever again order the seafood ravioli, the atmosphere more than made up for what was a little too authentic seafood dish for me.

Further into the drive we stopped at some Etruscan tombs which had been discovered in the 60’s. There were about fifteen of them, each with a set of steps that led down into a tomb, each one designed and decorated differently, but each one basically having been painted with a white background, and red designs. These tombs were about 500 years older than the city of Rome, which meant that they dated back to around 500 B.C. I’ve said before that I’m a bit of a history and archeology geek, and these things made my day.

Further up the coast we stopped for cannolis and to let Olyvia play in the town park a bit. She loved it and even made a little friend who couldn’t speak English, but who could go down the slide on her own which Lyvie found both very exciting and impressive.

To backtrack a bit, we did spend Easter morning in St. Peter’s square with, I’m guessing, several hundred thousand other pilgrims. It was ok. Not nearly the inspirational moment I thought it would be. Jamie bought prayer beads from the money changers standing outside the square, and Olyvia walked around and engaged those who were not being otherwise engaged by the Vatican worship band or the Pope. Later in the week we stood in the two hour line to get into the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. We were then herded another two hours through hallways, past priceless art, through tiny sixteenth century doorways, all with the goal of, in the words of Robin Williams, smelling the Sistine Chapel and looking up that that ceiling. Well, sadly, the Sistine Chapel smells like the sweat of about five hundred people all of which are crammed into a tiny little space where they’re constantly being told to be quiet and to not use any flashes. Any hopes of a serine moment were the hopes of a naïve tourist. Namely me.

On the other hand, St. Peter’s Basilica was amazing. I don’t know that it’s as ornate as Westminster Abbey, but the sheer size of it blew me away. The one thing I found a bit odd, and that Jamie found a bit freakish, were the former Popes that were still there lying in State. Their bodies had been preserved, mummified I suppose, and they were scattered throughout the Basilica in glass coffins. I’m not sure about that and, as a protestant, found it a bit weird. But outside of that, St. Peter’s was amazing.

One of the highlights about Rome itself was definitely the Forum. For some reason the Forum isn’t all that popular, which means that it’s also not that crowded, which I find a bit weird considering the fact that it is the oldest part of Rome and is, quite literally, the original part of the City. It is a small valley full of ruins. One of the interesting things about this area of the city is that another, slightly newer forum lies just across the street. These two forums were originally connected and were one area until Mussolini decided that he needed a big street to parade his military down, and so decided to build it right through these old ruins. Thankfully Italy has since that time come to its senses and begun to reclaim this area. In fact, from what I understand, this road may eventually be permanently shut down.

Driving in Rome is a bit crazy. Not only is the traffic a little out of control, but so are the streets. Whoever said that Roman roads are straight has never been to Rome. These things are all over the place. They’re a bit like London actually. And, to make matters worse, all of the street names are in Italian. So here we are, trying to somehow navigate our way through Rome, and at the same time trying to call out street names to figure out where we are on the map. “Via Giacinta Pezzana!” By the time you’d get it, along with the other three street names out, you were long past the intersection. Jamie and I are pretty good at navigation. We’re both pretty good map readers and she has a natural sense of direction, but we found Rome to be the hardest city, by far, to navigate.

More to come…