Thursday, October 30, 2008

Airport Reunions

If you spend much time in Airports,
you'll love this post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Serving His Country... and His Wife

This post is to honor my brother, Michael Majors.

Here he is with his wife and daughter.

For the last three years he has faithfully served our country in Germany, playing Bassoon (notice the two wood instruments standing tall near the left side. He is holding one of them)

and Bass guitar (he's on the right side) in the Army band.

Here he is with our mother (manly men love their moms), standing in front of the most AMAZING castle in Heidleberg, Germany (look how thick the walls are!)

Within the last month he moved his family home, to the U.S.A., and they are so excited to be back in the mother land. I'm proud of his service, but more importantly, I'm proud of the way he loves and serves his wife.

The following photo, which inspired this post, shows him hard at work, loving and leading his family by mowing his yard. They just moved in and he's already on top of it, fighting the free flowing fescue from the first moment of occupation.

may seem like a small thing, but let me tell you, it's a huge way to love on your wife, especially if you grew up disdaining those perpetually whirling blades of tortuous, mind-numbing activity which left you feeling as if what you just did mattered oh so little in the grand scheme of things (oh how I wish there were mp3 players 20 years ago).

Thank you, Michael
, for serving your country and for being a model of service to men all over the world. I'm proud to call you my brother. I'm proud that you are one man who is "trying."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lost Mountain

I will preface this book review with a number of statements: I LOVE the outdoors. I grew up camping and hiking all over the great state of Kentucky. I fell in love with the Red River Gorge and the Dairy Queen in Stanton long before I knew my future wife lived there. (Clarification: my wife did not live in the Dairy Queen, nor in Stanton, but rather in Clay City, Stanton's neighboring metropolis of 1,303 residents.)

There are few things I enjoy as much as standing in the middle of a cold river with a fly rod in hand, many miles removed from cities, houses, bait shops, and yahoos. I love nature, but I'm not a tree hugger (Mulch piles are beautiful too). I believe that humans are meant to responsibly "subdue the earth" (key word being 'responsibly', i.e. in a way that doesn't destroy it).

With all that said, This is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. It exposes so much about human depravity. This book tells the plight of strip mining in the Appalachian region; specifically in Eastern Kentucky. The author is a teacher at the University of Kentucky and spends a year tracking the demise of one mountain top, ironically named Lost Mountain.

The author notes that many scientists believe the Appalachian region is host to one of the greatest forests in the world - even referring to it as the "rain forest" of North America. So the decimation of the forest alone is worth being up in arms over. When I say decimation, I'm not implying that a few trees are cut down so some coal can be cut out, rather everything is turned upside down and poisoned with chemicals. Families that have lived in 'hollers' for generations and have learned to survive off the land are now scared to drink their own well water and can no longer grow food in their gardens. The land becomes completely unusable except for growing field grasses or building box stores - but where is the demand for box stores in the depths of Appalachia?

Sure there are safe strip mining practices. Europe has regulations that require companies to re-establish the previous contour of the land and re-apply the top-soil layer. There are no such regulations in Eastern Kentucky (or they are easily disregarded). Poor people with very little land rights get pooped on because they don't have the means to stand up to the machine. And the worst part of the entire story is the hypocrisy. There is not one strip-mining mogul who would stand for such practices to occur within 100 feet of their estates (which is the legal limit), let alone 100 miles!

How is it that men can so easily disregard Jesus' statement to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you?" Why do people become so careless just for coal? Is making a profit from coal really worth destroying someones home and land, even if it is 'legal'?

I'd encourage you to read the book - especially if you live in Kentucky. In fact, this is a MUST READ for every Kentucky resident. Kentucky has to be one of the most beautiful places on this earth, yet this beauty is being destroyed so that more office buildings can leave their lights on at night. This is a painful book, but very well written and engaging. He writes the story as if the mountain is a family member, or even a girlfriend, and with each explosion, he exposes the ensuing pain in his heart. He visits the families that have been affected, gets to know them and tells their stories. By the end of the book, you feel as if you have spent some time with them as well.

Erik Reece, I applaud you for having the courage to write this book. I'm sure you will receive all kinds of grief from all strata of government and even your own University (with an excellent mining engineering department).

Do I hate all strip mining and all people associated with strip mining? By no means! In fact, I can think of at least one friend that I have much respect for that sells mining equipment. But the process in Eastern Kentucky is broken and serious changes and improvements are needed. Now of course I'm well aware that there is always two sides to every story (Proverbs 18.17). But if even half of the information in this book is true, then this is a serious problem that must be turned around.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puppy Eyes Don't Evangelize

The college campus is a place of eternal youth, where you are an "old man" at 25. Stroll through the cauldron of culture at your own risk. Frisbees fly by your head. Bikes barrel down the path before you, begging you to play chicken with their rotating rubber weapons. Two young lovers rub noses on the park bench, oblivious to the heat, rain, snow, or whatever elements may surround them.

It is in this environment my wife and I landed to do ministry in 1999. What better place to share the gospel! I was inspired by hearing Bill Bright say on multiple occasions, "If you change the campus, you change the world." How true. Most of our political and business leaders were reared on the University bottle. But the task of reaching the campus was not simple. Eighteen-year olds would stand in line to sign up for a credit card and a complimentary 2-liter, yet walk right past our free pizza.

But we were not the only old dogs on campus. Other groups also tried to share the gospel to these young, open-minded men and women. One group owned a building in the heart of the campus, and their evangelism seemed to consist of standing outside the building and inviting people inside. Various tactics were employed; impromptu volleyball games and free food, both with a heavy dose of sad puppy eyes that cried "won't you come inside… please?" Most students learned to steer clear of that building by week three of their freshman year.

The ministry we served with had no building, so we worked hard to mingle with the students on their territory. In the cafeteria, in the gym, outside of classrooms, in the student center, wherever they gathered, we were there getting to know them, hunting them down, receiving their "who is this old guy?" looks with joy.

One observation has stuck with me from that experience: Buildings are not a good ministry strategy. Sure they have some value, but it seems that merely owning a building creates an unhealthy dependence upon that building.

How shocking when we arrived at a new church and heard the constant refrain to "invite someone to church with you." Why was this the primary evangelistic strategy? Don't they know it does not work! Sure, people may come to the building, but they need something more than a sermon to experience change. Think about the state of our culture: there is an unprecedented amount of information available. People are seeking help for their marriages and life in a wide variety of places.

But even with all that is available, the problem remains. Families are still struggling. A recent poll showed that 44% of women consider leaving their husbands occasionally, some daily. The Census Bureau reports that 6.4 million couples are cohabiting, up from 1 million in 1980.

Lots of information is available, but information alone is not enough to bring about transformation. I know plenty about the negative effects of cheesecake on my waistline, but I still eat it. Smokers cannot avoid the Surgeon General's abundant warnings, yet people still smoke. Information is not bad; it is just an incomplete solution. If information is not enough, then what is it that people need

· Engagement with other people around the Scriptures.

· Experience and wisdom from other couples.

· Encouragement to persevere.

· Examples of success.

Bottom line: People need relationships, and one of the best places for people to experience relationships is in a small group setting. People are starving for relationships. Because of this hunger, many people that would never enter a church building will visit your home. With home based small groups your church can begin to push ministry out into the neighborhoods, where people already gather, instead of relying on a building.

Maybe you are not up for starting a small group yet. Start with having some neighbors over for dinner to get to know them. Or invite another couple to the movie Fireproof with you. Think of ways to begin connecting with your neighbors and loosen your dependence upon the church building for evangelism.

Our church has been emphasizing the power of shared experiences. Having people in your home, and attending movies together are both ways to create a shared experience. It is these shared experiences that lead to conversations about the gospel. Take a step of faith and pray for wisdom for how you can take a small step towards a neighbor this week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marriage Advice for Men

I was mountain biking recently with a single guy and he asked me about the nature of timing in communication and conflict with members of the opposite sex. I replied "timing related to conflict is like timing in comedy. Timing is EVERYTHING." Figuring that one out alone will help any guy make better decisions. There are also few other things a man could benefit from knowing about marriage. These guys cover the bases well with their helpful advice in this video:

Disclaimer: Wearing a faux mullet will not necessarily help your chances of actually getting married.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Francis Schaeffer Conference

For the Francis Schaeffer fan, there is a new conference.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Free Bible for Palm

For those of you who have the Palm Smartphones (or palm handheld devices), there is a free Bible software program available called Bible+. Using this software, you can carry around the following on your phone:
  • ESV Standard and ESV Red-Letter.
  • The Message
  • God's Living Word
  • King James Version with Footnote Strong's Numbers
  • Modern Young’s Literal Translation.
  • Interlinear Greek with parsing and definitions, as well as pointed Hebrew.
  • Stephanus Textus Receptus
  • Abbott’s Illustrated New Testament
  • Adam Clarke’s Commentary
  • Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament
  • Darby’s Translation Notes
  • Family Bible Notes
  • Geneva Translation Notes
  • Revgraham’s Hebrew Strong’s Concordance
  • J.F. Brown commentary
  • John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible
  • Matthew Henry’s Commentary
  • Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
  • Scofield Reference Notes