Monday, February 28, 2011

Down with Concert Halls and Midi Files

My friend Micah debuted his new album in his living room last Friday. He started performing to the rhythm of our feet. We pounded the floor; he spoke of lightening. He strummed his guitar; he spoke of redemption. These were "Songs of Love..." if we were listening.

The new album comprised story, analogy, history, melancholy, and a tribute to resurrection. Thoughtfully composed and meticulously practiced, the album was grand. Micah used a capo and finger picked. He tapped his toes and closed his eyes. He got into it.

His wife Nicole complimented the evening with her own notes of love (..if we were eating). Warm brie with strawberry jam filling, freshly baked bread and Nutella, coffee and cold beverages, and glasses and plates adorned the table. She got into it.

Fourteen bodies pressed together. We ate. We clapped. We commented. We laughed. We supported our friend. We got into it.

In a world full of crowded concert halls and compressed midi files, it is refreshing to sit in a room with real people, food, and music. It is a foretaste of heaven...if we're looking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Diego, et al.

Last week my ESL class had three Diegos. This simplified the task of learning names. But two of the Diegos did not speak English, which made instruction difficult.

Fortunately, I've mastered a few Spanish phrases over the years. When I worked at a restaurant with two Joses, I often muttered Con Permiso. As I understand, the words roughly translate: "Please let me pass, I have a hot plate of chicken in my hands." I also learned to state my name and ask for another for his. The Joses called me Timerbly. As I understand, the moniker roughly translates: "A girly-boy named Tim."

For the past few years, our church offers weekly ESL classes to stay-at-home parents. Most of them are moms. Many bring their infants and pre-school aged children. Several of them are named Diego. Because my estimable Job Description requires me to teach adults Bible (as a Second Language) on Sunday mornings, I seize the opportunity to teach children on Wednesdays.

While this small ministry may not resolve any border disputes or immigration problems, it certainly models redemption in a culture gripped by fear and politics. It provides a learning community for isolated mothers. It gives them a voice in a foreign country. It gives pastors a chance to work with kids and learn names.

Teaching language (English or Bible) and learning names is a worthy vocation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ego Shot

When a third of the Underground Church participants leave halfway through my presentation, my ego feels punched. I am just getting warmed up. My critique of the current Social Justice movement is reaching its crescendo. My story about whipped cream and embarrassing family moments is just around the corner. Then an entire table stands up and announces their departure.

Smack! Pow! Kazaam!

I've been punched before. My brother punched my arm whenever I flinched. Pop! Crack! And I survived several school yard tussles as a kid. Bam! Crash! Bloody noses stop bleeding. Bruises and broken bones eventually heal. But a wounded ego requires special attention.

Immediately, I begin to wonder if the remaining listeners are equally ready to leave. Eyelids are shutting, tea lights expiring. A half hour remains until midnight, and I have yet to trace diachronically the Old Testament's method of evangelism. (Riveting, I know, but this is what we paid for: Pizza and in-depth study of the OT.)

So I do what any wounded ego would do. I tell my story about whipped cream. It is self-depreciating and nakedly human. The remnant laughs and gives me permission to move forward. I do.

"Turn to Joshua 24..."

A reflection on my teaching opportunity at an Underground Church event in Warsaw, IN, inspired by The Church at Brook Hills. I discussed the OT narrative and Environmentalism, Social Justice, and Evangelism in the OT.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


In our bi-weekly accountability meeting, my brother-in-law confessed his distaste for confrontation. We sat at a booth at Pizza Hut. To this point, I had eaten a Caesar salad, serving of pasta primavera, two breadsticks, and five pieces of pizza. I was waiting for the dessert tray to be refreshed. Christian accountability is as good a reason as any to practice gluttony.

We spoke in particulars. Who and why confrontation was needed. I asked a simple question: "Did you confront her?" (I won't say who she is; accountability relationships are sworn to secrecy.)

"No," Aaron replied. "I am melgreen."

"You're what?" I asked.

Aaron explained: The father-in-law we share by having married sisters, is named Mel. Until recently, Mel worked in the corporate world. In the corporate world, bosses occasionally provide personality test to their workers to determine personality types and emotional IQs. Mel's boss wanted to know what color he was. Mel was green. And green is the color of compliance, harmony, and conflict avoidance.

What my brother-in-law was trying to say is: "As it is relates to confrontation, I am like Mel, I am green." What he said is, "I am Mel: green." What I heard is: I am melgreen.

Thus in a small town Pizza Hut booth, where two accountability partners consumed a sum of 5000 calories for lunch, a new term was birthed.

Melgreen (n.) the deliberate and complete avoidance of confrontation.

Use it wisely.