Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Sounds Weird

Sunset, the local funeral home, has remodeled and is having an open house this weekend.

According to the article, a junior high orchestra will be performing on Saturday, and a harpist will be featured on Sunday. Kinda makes me glad I didn't learn an instrument! You never know what kind of gig you will get. 

And to make things feel a little less weird, those who register will have the chance to win door prizes and get special discounts. I have an idea what the special discounts might include, but what kind of door prizes would one win at a funeral home open house? I may need to stop by just to find out!

I know, I know: We will all need them one day, but really, an open house? That just sounds weird.

UPDATE: By 11:30 on Saturday, I was the only one who had shown up for the open house. In fact, the orchestra didn't even show up. They still haven't called to tell me that I won a door prize (it was a $100 gift card), so others may have shown up after me.

The open house wasn't exactly what I had expected; I had two workers escort me around the facilities, showing me each area. It lasted about 5 minutes and I left with the feeling I had a good chance to win the door prize.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rodeo Update

Well, I survived. A great time was had by all, and my legs still hurt more than I could have imagined. But that's what 4-5 hours of competing on horseback will do.

We were divided into teams, but the ropers (a specialty skill) served double, and sometimes triple duty on different teams. In the end, there were no trophy buckles or saddles, which is fine. We had the chance to spend the day on horses, encouraging one another in our efforts.

I had my first opportunity to ride a horse out of a roping box, which made me realize how much of a specialty skill calf/steer roping really is. There's a lot involved in guiding the horse with one hand and trying to rope with the other.

I appreciate those who made their horses available to those of us who don't have horses. I especially appreciate Mr. Smith who let me ride Tonka most of the day. I tried to ride the sorrel horse in the photo at the top, but couldn't reign him in a way that worked for either of us. So, I switched to Tonka (more affectionately known as "Chubs") and had a great day.

Grace also rode Tonka.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jairus and the Woman who Interfered

Last night in the small group I was leading we studied the story of Jairus and the woman who "interfered" with Jesus coming to heal Jairus' little girl (Mark 5:21-43).

I put "interfered" in quotations because it had never before occurred to me that that may be exactly what an anxious father might have thought in that situation. "Why are you doing this? Why now? My daughter is dying and we need to get there!"

I've had to take my daughter to the hospital and know what it is to have a very sick child, one sick enough that I couldn't do anything to help her. I also know the frustration of having to wait at admissions to get her checked in when she's fighting for a breath.

I wonder what Jairus thought as he waited on Jesus to finish with the woman who had delayed the Lord. I wonder if he thought the chance to heal his daughter was passing by, perhaps the same way Martha felt about Jesus delaying to come to help her brother Lazarus' (John 11).

I wonder if Jairus worried that Jesus might use up all his miracle working power on this woman and not be able to help the little girl. I wonder if he rejoiced in the Lord's mercy on the woman who had suffered for 12 years. Or was he too focused on his own situation?

As I began to think about these things last night, I realized that rather than find anxiety in the delay, Jairus, the desperate father should have found hope and encouragement, even as he waited. After all, he witnessed the healing of a woman who had suffered terribly for 12 long, painful years. I hope Jairus said, "If he can do that for her, imagine what he can do for my daughter."

I've been really encouraged lately as I've met some men whom Jesus has worked the "impossible" in their lives. And their testimonies encourage me to be hopeful in the way I hope Jairus was hopeful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It was about 25 years ago . . .

. . . that I last put on a pair of these:

This Saturday, I may wear them again. I'm entered in Temple Baptist Church's Missionary Rodeo in Dumas, Texas.

I wasn't very good back then, so I'm not expecting to win all-around cowboy or anything like that. Hopefully, I'll have fun and be able to manage my horse well. I don't think there will be any rough-stock events (that's bucking events for those not familiar with rodeo lingo), which is good since it would be foolish for me to get on anything that bucks.

I was on a horse about a month ago, so I hope that was a sufficient re-orientation for me. 

Here's my motto for this rodeo:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beware of Covetousness

Luke 12:15 - “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What About Mary?

Here's the first offering in a new category: Jesus Said

Luke 11:27 - As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

Notice Jesus' reply: "Blessed RATHER are those who hear the word of God and obey it (11:28)."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

You Asked About My Research

First, I'm surprised that anyone is still here. I wouldn't blame anyone for abandoning this site. After all, I abandoned it first. :-) Anyway, I hope this is a sign that posts will be here more regularly.

I'm honored that (soon to be Dr.) Danny Frese is interested enough to ask for some details of my PhD work. So, Danny, here goes:

My program is a PhD in Missiology - Science of Religion at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. UP has a large residential research doctoral program in a host of fields, theology being one of them. I've read that it is actually the largest research PhD center in Africa, which may or may not be saying much. UP's program is built on the British research-only model and has a number of respectable institutional partnerships with European Universities. And I understand the School of Theology is working on some type of institutional partnership with a US institution, but I don't have any more details, like which institution.

They have given me an exemption from being in Pretoria on a regular basis since my research is specific to where I have been living. (For those that aren't aware, we are mostly in the States for the next year visiting our supporting churches. I'm currently scheduled to be in Israel at least 2 times for research during this year.) I did have to agree to be present in Pretoria any time my adviser says I need to be there.

[Note: UP should not be confused with UNISA, the University of South Africa. They are not the same in many respects.]

In general, I can say that my research deals with conversion to faith in Jesus - the process, barriers, and social ramifications. Rather than reading the "how to" books by the experts, I'm interviewing those who have actually come to faith, asking them about their experience. I'm finding their stories are quite different than the experts seem to suggest. (I'm being purposely evasive here, but will send my proposal by email if anyone I know asks.)

In the end, I'm hopeful that my research will be a helpful knowledge base of what is actually happening in this region.

Friday, September 03, 2010

PhD Research Proposal Approved!

I was surprised with good news yesterday: I received official approval of my PhD research proposal. I was also surprised at the relief I felt when I saw that my proposal had been approved.

I submitted the proposal in early May, so I've been waiting on pins and needles almost four months. My adviser let me know that World Cup 2010 would delay the process since all state universities in South Africa were required to adjust their schedules to accommodate the World's largest sporting event. But that didn't make it any easier to wait and wait and wait. 

I've struggled with proceeding very much with my research because I've been afraid that I might need to make some major adjustments to my project framework; and I think struggling with the pressure/desire to move forward (to actually get something done!) but not wanting to go too far is the pressure I felt float away when I received this news.

I was confident in my proposal because I had worked hard on it, refining it several times to meet the guidelines. Also, I had a few qualified friends make helpful comments that improved it's quality. And my adviser, who is supposed to know about this kind of stuff, said it was a very good proposal. 

However, since there was so much riding on the "whims" of people I don't know and my adviser had "warned" me that it's almost automatic for the committee to return proposals, even good ones, with some recommendations to improve the document, the delay was causing me to feel some uncertainty that my work would be satisfactory.

So, I was quite happy to get this notation at the bottom of the evaluation form:

Aanbeveling / Recommendation

That the proposal be approved.

[Dept Head Signature]

Evalueerder / Evaluator: Prof. CJP Niemandt