Monday, June 30, 2008


"I recognize a dynamic at work in some of them that the blogger is so intent on establishing herself or himself as a person of significance and all his or her ideas are so important that the communication comes off as nearly yelling. There is quite a bit of emotional exhibitionism going across the Ethernet."
- Bill Tillman, quoted in a story on

I looked at my blog today and it has been 21 days, exactly 3 weeks since my last blog. I don't like for that much time to lapse between blog posts. I feel like, if this is something I am going to do, I need to be committed to doing it on a regular basis.

So why has it been 3 weeks? Well, 1 week I can explain away in that my work computer was not connected to the Internet last week while it was being used for Vacation Bible School.

But I still have a computer at home. And that doesn't explain the other two weeks. OK, for 5 days I was on vacation, but still, what about the other 21/2 weeks?

I came across this quote today from Bill Tillman and it got me thinking about why I do this blogging thing. It started as part of my sabbatical as a way for me to share some of my sabbatical experiences with others while I was away. But the sabbatical ended months ago, and I kept doing this. Why?

I would like to believe that I do this because I do believe I have important ideas. Tillman's quote makes it sound like this is a bad thing. Now, if it leads to crass behavior and unChrist-like attitudes, I wholeheartedly agree with Tillman. However, I do think there are plenty of individuals who have very important ideas. If the Internet is accomplishing anything significant, perhaps it is that people can share important ideas that might get overlooked by traditional outlets that are looking only for the big names, the "proper" credentials, or the celebrity status. You do not have to be Bill Gates, Bono, or a presidential candidate to have an important idea.

However, if I am going to argue with Mr. Tillman in one area, I have to be convicted by his words in another. There should be blogs for the sharing of important ideas. (Maybe that was why there were no blog entries for 3 weeks). However, I must admit that there are moments where I feel like I should blog so that others will think I am someone important. Here is where John the Baptist becomes a helpful model for blogging: "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30). My worth or value is not tied to blogging. If the Internet indeed allows for the free sharing of ideas, then it is the ideas that should be the focus. My goal as a blogger should be to state my ideas clearly so that the ideas can be understood, not so I will receive attention for myself.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Faith Community for Public Transportation

I have attended several meetings recently of a group that has come to call itself Faith Community for Public Transportation. This is a growing group of ministry leaders in Alamance County who are looking for ways to work together to bring affordable public transportation to Alamance County. In the coming months I will probably devote several blog entries to this topic, starting with this one. I thought I might share some of the reasons why this group believes that affordable public transportation is necessary in Alamance County.

1) Socio-economic justice.
17% of Alamance County is living at or below the poverty line, and that number could be low. Many of these folks do not have ready access to a car, a luxury many of us take for granted. Because of this, it is difficult for them to get to job interviews and to work daily. The Alamance Rides program costs $8 one way, which means $16 round trip. For folks who are living on the edge financially, that is too steep a price to pay. A good public transportation system could provide easier access to jobs for those who need those jobs the most.

2) Faithful care of the elderly.
Most of the elderly in our community live on fixed income. However, most of their costs are not fixed. Between the rising costs of healthcare and medication and the rising costs of fuel and food, more and more senior adults are finding their finite resources pinched. A good public transportation system could provide a great aid to an ever-growing senior adult population.

3) Environmental issues.
Regular use of public transportation could decrease the number of cars on the road. Concerns about the ozone and global warming often cite an overabundance of cars as one of the primary factors.

4) Dependence on Oil.
In this day and age of fast rising gas prices, we are reminded of how dependent we have gotten on other countries for our oil. Perhaps a well-run public transportation could reduce our demand for foreign oil, and thus help reduce our obligations to outside interests.

5) The Middle Class.
All of these issues are becoming concerns not only for a few or a select group. More and more of the "middle class" are being pinched by and growing concerned about all of these issues and are looking for alternatives. A good public transportation system could be just such an alternative.

6) The Effect on Local Ministries.
Churches and other local ministries are affected by rising gas prices and limited access to transportation. How can a family needing food get to the local food pantry without a car? Some of these types of ministries offer delivery options, but even those options could be cut back or done away with because of rising fuel costs. Several churches are already discussing cutting back on ministry programs because of a concern that their members will have to reduce their activities to compensate for rising fuel costs. An affordable public transportation system could be a tool to allow many ministries to continue to meet the needs of people in our county.

I just wanted to introduce some of these concepts. Look for future posts that explore these ideas in further detail.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Get It To The Table

Last night Amy and I watched a designer cake competition on the Food Network. We have watched these things before, but honestly I had never paid close attention until last night. Last night, the competitors were making cakes based on Disney Pixar movies.

What stuck out to me last night was one of the most important parts of the competition, something so simple that I really took it for granted: carrying the cake from the kitchen to the table. Remember, these cakes are several feet tall and several feet wide and held together with far less than super glue and caulk. I never would have thought that carrying a cake to a table was a big deal. However, when I saw one man's cake that he had been working 7 hours on fall apart as soon as he moved it to the table, I realized how important this final step was. You can work all day in the kitchen baking a cake, but if you can't move it out of the kitchen and to the table where everybody can enjoy it, you have wasted a day.

Ever since the show ended, I can't stop thinking about that cake. I keep thinking about my ministry, about the ministry of my church and of every church. Eddie Hammett constantly chides the local church for being too inward focused, forgetting that the Great Commission is a call to go out into the world. Last night, I realized the church is a lot like one of those designer cakes. You can spend hours, days, weeks, years getting it decorated and looking nice, but if you can't carry the church and its message to the table for everybody to enjoy, you have wasted a lot of time and energy.

There have been a lot of ideas kicking around in my head lately. I think last night God may have given me a focal point to help pull these ideas together: Get It To the Table. I want to see First Baptist's ministry and my ministry grow and develop, but I want to make sure that all of us are as focused on getting that ministry to where all can benefit from it as we are on building the ministry. It would be a shame to expend a lot of time and energy and watch it all fall apart.