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Moving In (part 4)

Here's the latest house news. Tomorrow morning they install the carpet and should finish by lunch time. Then we move in!

So now here's the fun story.

I'm borrowing a truck from a friend to move the furniture and boxes and all on Saturday morning. He's going out of town for the weekend, so I had to pick the truck up today. He has an oil business, so this is the truck they use for transporting oil drums, and it has a hydraulic lift on the back.

This thing is a beast! It must be twenty-five years old, and drives like a tank. It's a stick shift with 1, 2, 3, 4, & R. My buddy tells me first is geared low for hauling the oil drums, so don't use it. So you start it in second and basically drive with three gears. The upholstry is pretty nice if you like threads and foam. There's a huge hole in the dash board where a radio could go and the AC doesn't work. The rattle and hum of the engine simply makes you feel manly. I don't even know how to spell the way it sounds. Maybe "bbbrrrrrr-bbrrrr-bbbrrrrr" or "whaaahhh-wwhoohh". You get the idea. The bed is nearly rusted out, but definitely still very solid.

I'm telling you, this is an incredible truck.

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What is Web 2.0?

I'm not exactly what you'd call a technogeek, but have really become interested in this whole inter-web fad that's going on. Perhaps you've made use of computers and that world wide web thing, no? (yes, there's irony in that.)

Since we've been married, Shannon and I have opted not to have cable television. It's not necessarily a protest of 'trashy content', although that's probably healthy for me to avoid. It may be that we're cheap and don't want to pay for it. It may be that we were just lazy in having it connected before, and after a while figured "why start now?". And the truth is that I probably wouldn't get half the stuff done that I do now if I had television on a regular basis. Whatever the reason, the point is no cable for us.

Instead, we do have the internet, and that facilitates much of our entertainment and information. Much of my news content, music, video watching, etc. is done via our computer.

So a couple of days ago (I honestly don't remember where I got it from) I came across this video from FastCompany about Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a term I've heard tossed around a bit for a while. Seems a little like "insider" language and the conversation about it is not a big deal to me (however, the concepts / ideology / principles behind the Web 2.0 movement have HUGE implications).

Anyhow, here's what I wanted to say...

I watched this documentary (yes, it's a bit long, but about like watching a half-hour tv show) and listened to what these "experts" had to say about Web 2.0. I don't know what AJAX is, how complicated FLASH or JAVA is, or lots of the technical stuff that talked about, but I was struck by a couple things.

First, the way these business leaders understood the need to listen to "outsiders" with so much of Web 2.0 platforms being user centered and driven (think YouTube, Ebay, blogging). The closing discussion on web browsers was revealing and insightful to this point. I'll talk a little about this in the upcoming series on The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. I'm sure this stood out to me because I've already been thinking about it lately.

Another thing that I found striking is that one of the interviewees mentioned four components of successful web based companies: search, content, tools/apps, and community. I see these same concepts being integral to the church in our culture and society. Each of these could be posts all to them selves, but I'll briefly state it here and let you take these ideas further for yourself. "Search" relating to the accessability of the church, how easy is it for an 'outsider' to get 'in' and find what you're looking for. "Content" being the message of the gospel that must be shared in ways that are compelling, relevant, and true. "Tools and applications" representing helpful ways of sharing with people what it means to be the church in this world, inviting and empowering people to join God in His redemptive work. And "community" being just that; providing an arena wherein people are known and cared for and where they can know and care for others. We all desire a certian amount of connectivity because that's the way we were made (in the image of a communal, triune, relational God).

So, just some food for thought on a Thursday...

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What's on deck?

Since I haven't posted much this past week (been busy, but lots of stuff has been brewing) and since we're coming down the home stretch in my fantasy baseball league (in the last week before play-offs, sitting in third with a guaranteed play-off spot, four-and-one-half games out of second and a first round bye), I thought I'd give you just a brief update and let you know "What's on deck?" (for the non-baseball fans, that means what's coming up next)

We should have the carpet installation completed by Friday, and we'll be moving in over the long holiday weekend, finally. There's food for anybody who wants to help move some furniture! Also, Saturday night I have the privilege of speaking at a community youth gathering in Statesboro called "the Summit". I'll condense what I'm sharing there and post it here after Saturday night.

I'll be posting a series on a book by Stanley/Joiner/Jones called "7 Practices of Effective Ministry" beginning next week, sharing some of my thoughts. I would highly recommend this book to anyone leading in ministry. More on that later...

And next weekend I'll be participating in a Safe Sanctuaries workshop in Macon, looking at how local churches can take steps to reduce the risk of abuse within congregations. I'll be there Friday and Saturday as part of the conference steering committee working to implement some policies and procedures throughout the conference.

So, that's a little of "what's on deck"!

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Moving In (part 3)

We’re ready to move in! Almost.

We’re having new carpet laid this week, and we’re in just after that. (The theory is that it’s easier to put new carpet in a house before you put furniture all in the way.) I’ve removed the old carpet from the house, pulled up the pad, and even scraped most of the glue from the previous carpet pad. C’mon carpet people! C’mon!

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How’s your person?

Our pastor told this story this morning. I thought it was a great little illustration:

This dad is tired and settles in for a nice afternoon nap. His little boy, however, wants to play. Every few minutes the boy wakes the dad wanting some attention. The dad, not wanting to be disturbed from his nap, comes up with a sure fire way to get a little sleep.

He takes a page from the newspaper that has a large color picture of a globe and tears it into twenty-five or thirty pieces. He explains to his son that he now gets to put together his brand new puzzle of the world. Certain this would afford him a some nap-time, the dad settles back down on the couch.

Just a few minutes later the little boy is waking his dad. “My puzzle is done,” he tells his dad. The dad knows his son doesn’t know the location of countries and continents or where oceans go, but looking at the puzzle, everything seemed to be in order. “This is great, son, but how’d you put it together so fast?”

The little boy explained: “You see, there’s a picture of a person on the back of this page, dad, and I know what a person looks like. When I got my person put back together, the world looked just fine.

Perhaps the work of restoring our world lies in allowing God’s son to put our person back together.

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Do I laugh, cry, or shoot somebody?

Football season is starting up soon. Shannon and I are even thinking of getting season tickets for the GSU games this year. As a Georgia Southern graduate, and after what I came across today, I now hope for two things:

1- We beat App State from now until forever.


2- We never do anything dumb like this.

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It's been a year

Today has been August 19, 2006.

One year ago was August 19, 2005. That's the day our house caught fire.

This may be a long post but will be a good bad story, so indulge me.

It was the Friday night of the first home high school football game of the season, and we were going to skip it. Instead, Shannon and I were getting ready to go out of town for the weekend when one of those summer thunder storms started. We had the car packed and were taking care of those little last minute details, and the bottom just fell out of this storm. Not being in a tremendous rush, we decided to wait for the storm to slack off before we began our trip (these types of late afternoon summer storms in south Georgia pass over pretty quickly most of the time).

Well, this storm was dropping buckets and had some pretty good thunder going on. Suddenly there was a loud BOOM! and the flash from lightning as the power went out. It sounded like someone had just fired a rifle in the next room. Shannon and I happened to both be in the hall. We both froze and looked at each other, eyes wide.

After a couple seconds of silence she said, "That was close." Her voice was slow and a little shaky from the surprise. "Really close."

Curious, we walked to the front porch, hoping maybe to see where the lightning had struck. We could see bits of wood scattered about the driveway from a pinetree just beside the house. We could also see that the transformer had been nearly completely knocked off the light pole by the street. We knew the lightning had hit somewhere, but I don't think either of us expected to see it had hit the front yard.

A short while later the rain had passed. Since the power was still out, we made sure we had turned everything in the house off. Before we left we walked across the street to tell a neighbor about the electric pole (it had knocked out power to the whole block). So we jumped in the car and headed out. This was a good forty-five minutes or an hour after the lightning had hit.

We had been on the road about fifteen or twenty minutes, just long enough to get to the next town, when my cell phone rang.

"Where are you guys?" a frantic voice blurted out. It was our next-door neighbor. "Cochran," I said. "Why?"

"I don't know how to tell you this, but your house is on fire."

Your house is on fire. I'll remember those words for a long time. Those are the type of words you ever expect to hear. Ever.

I told her we were turning around and that we'd be there as soon as possible. She told me the fire department was on the way and they'd be there for us. As I hung up the phone I realised I was about to have to explain this to the woman sitting next to me in the car.

She had been talking on her cell with her mom when I got the call, so she didn't catch all of my end of the brief conversation, but she knew something was wrong by my demeanor (that and me hitting the breaks to pull a u-turn in the middle of the highway).

Now guys - husbands - see if you're with me on this one. I was afraid I was about to break my little girl's heart. So I did the normal guy thing. I lied.

Well, only sort of. When she asked what was going on, I told her our neighbor had just called and said she *thought* our house was on fire. After she began to ask for an explanation I realised how thin a cover that was and quickly gave it up. I told her about the phone call and the fire department and she tried to tell me I didn't have to drive 95mph. I slowed down a little.

We didn't talk for a moment. I reached over and held her hand. I told her I was worried. She said, "me too."

I still vividly remember my stream of thoughts: I can't get there any faster than what I can safely get there because it's not going to help by adding a car wreck to the situation, and even if I get there, there's really nothing we'd be able to do, but I want to be there. At least if I'm there I know what's going on. I want to be there. This could be bad. I murmurred a prayer out loud.

I took nearly fifteen minutes to drive back home. And here's the thing that sat with me during that time. I didn't know if we'd pull up and there would have been a little fire with no real damage, no big deal. Or if we'd pull up the street and there would be a charred 2x4 sticking up out of the ground. Sometimes in life the question marks are tougher than the exclamation marks.

We began to talk, trying to calm each other, plan the quickest way through town back to the house, figure out what we were going to need to do. Another neighbor called saying the fire department was there. Shannon called her parents (who lived close). I called my mom (who lived closer). They all said they'd be right there.

As we turned up our street, we parked in our neighbors yard. We could see the fire trucks in front of our house and the neighborhood crowd gathered across the street. I talked with somone from the fire dept while Shannon shared hugs with a friend from across the street. I remember standing there by myself for a minute, everything only momentarily in slow motion, taking everything in, soaking up the scene; the smell, the sounds, the smoke, the people, the flames, the wet grass.

Apparently the loud BOOM! of lightning that hit the light pole and the pine tree had arched to the house or run in the power line. It caused some sort of spark in the attic and had caught in the insulation. It must have smoldered for the hour or so in between the time it hit and when we left. It flared up in the insulation and spread across the attic. Our neighbor's kid (who was part of the youth ministry) had been outside and thought we were grilling, but then noticed it was a lot of smoke for a steak (even for my cooking!). He saw the fire and they called 911.

The firemen (and woman) had cut a hole in the roof to lower a hose in so they could get closer. They got there quickly and got things under control pretty well. Most of the fire damage was contained to the attc space, but since the fire was in the insulation, they really had to drench it so it wouldn't keep burning. The water weight caused the ceiling to fall through in three of the rooms, dropping water, debris, soot, and ash all over everything.

Once the fire was out, we spent the night moving much of the undamaged stuff into a storage building, packing things up as best we could and as quickly as we could. We used flashlights when it got dark because, even once the rest of the neighborhood had power again, the electricity had to stay shut off from our house. Friends, neighbors, family all stayed for a long time helping move and pack and comfort.

It would be some months later that we would move back into that house. Because the fire had damaged so much of the roofing and ceiling, and due to smoke and water damage throughout, it was nearly completely rebuilt. It almost seemed like a brand new house when we moved back in. That event, and the months that followed had a big impact on Shannon and me. Yes, it was emotional. Yes, I've learned much from the whole ordeal. And yes, we've come through it ok. But that Friday is certainly a day that has stuck with me and no doubt will for a long time.

I've let this story sit for a year. I think maybe I needed to before I told it in this detail. In the near future I hope to share some of the lessons I've taken from the fire.

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Concerning peanuts and healthy churches...

Tomorrow is the not-quite-world-famous-but-big-deal-around-here Brooklet Peanut Festival. We're having a parade, booths downtown, 5k run, live music... all kinds of fun stuff. And tomorrow would be my first ever Peanut Festival experience.

But it won't be.

No, I'm not boycotting. This isn't some sort of protest against those tiny legumes. Actually, I'm a big fan of peanut butter and I think Mr. Washington Carver seems like he would have been a terrifically nice guy.

Tomorrow I'll be participating in a one day seminar for creating healthier churches. It's being hosted by the South Georgia conference of the UMC in Warner Robins and they are offering workshops on lots of areas of church health. I'll be soaking up some youth ministry related goodness. (Sounds optimistic, huh? Well, that's the plan.) I plan to share some of my insights once I have some time to process the info. I'll also be seeing some good friends there, too. I'm looking forward to the event, even though it means sacrificing my big Peanut Festival debut.

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Eating from both ends of the burrito?

This has been 'one of those weeks' and it's certainly 'one of those days.' It's good though, just lots to accomplish in a short amount of time. While I was out ordering carpet for the house and getting supplies for our big ministry meeting tonight, I pulled through TacoBell for some life sustaining fake mexican faire; "one burrito supreme and one chalupa, please."

As I sat at my desk eating, the back end of the burrito dropped out, so I ended up having to nibble from both ends of the burrito. Then it occured to me...

It figures I'd be eating my burrito from both ends because that's how I've been living lately. So tommorrow is a day off. That's not something I've handled well, lately. I've been trying so hard to establish myself in this new ministry position, making plans for the fall, meeting people, organizing the office... So today, there's a stake in the ground. A line in the sand. A police tape reading 'do not cross' placed around tomorrow. As much as there is left to do this week, no job related work tomorrow.

He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD.'" -Exodus 16:23a

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Moving In (part 2)

We've been painting the new house, and are now ready to have some new carpet put down. As soon as that happens, we'll move in. I don't think that can all happen soon enough. I'm really ready to get settled in.

Here are a few pictures of the painting. Thanks to all our friends who showed up to help. You can see everybody all over our kitchen. Also, there's a pic of the living room and Shannon putting some paint on the wall in the master bathroom. It wasn't all business; uncle Josh took a break to read a book for his favorite (and only) niece.

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I guess J-Dob isn't a season ticket holder

Being an ATL Braves fan and having recieved a flyer in the mail for the events, this article from ESPN was interesting.


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Way funny, and not-so-funny...

The Way Funny:

Some of you may have seen that video of some guy talking to an audience and trying say, "pitched his tents" but misplaces the 'n' and says something quite different. Well, somebody decided to go all ashton-kucher on him and came out with this video. Way Funny! (from marko, prank316)

And The Not-So-Funny:

Then I came across this article from ESPN about mistaken identity. Miserable!

That's all for now from josh (the josh burnham from brooklet, ga).

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What day is trash day?

I've got a pretty nice sort of office. When I moved in this summer, the church hooked me up with a dark-cherry desk, matching bookcases, matching low-profile horizontal filing cabinet, and there's these two cushy leather chairs the kids love. I may still work on sliding a small couch in the corner, but it's all pretty sweet. Gives that professional tone to the office, but still has flair (provided by the bobble head Jesus, giant inflatable OscarMeyer, and coconut monkey, among other odds and ends).

My trash can sits over in the corner, kind of behind the desk.

Now, I don't know if the cleaning staff hasn't thought about me having a trash can, if it's just been over-looked, or if they don't like me yet... I don't know, but they have yet to empty my trash can. That being said, I haven't emptied it yet, either. So far it's mostly scraps of paper, returned phone messages, Subway cups from lunch, stuff like that; nothing odor producing.

But the pile is growing.

The little trash can is full, and starting to spill over the edge ever-so-slightly. I've got another little trash bag next to the can holding more waste. It's slowly creeping out of the corner and invading the office.

I wonder how often we let trash build-up in our lives. Stuff that has no business being there, stuff that we just push to the edges and ignore for a while. I wonder what kind of junk we accumulate instead of just getting rid of it. I know there are things in my life that I need to let go of, trash that needs to be cleaned out. Some of this are areas I need to make changes, things I just need to man-up and take care of. Some of the junk are places I need to let God step in and change me.

My prayer is that God would come into the corners of my life and take out the trash, before it creeps out of the corners and takes over.

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." -1John1:5-9

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More than a cool, young guy with a frisbee and guitar?

I read this article today from the Washington Post about youth ministry. (thanks for the heads-up from marko)

It's interesting (and encouraging) to hear about youth ministry from someone 'outside' of the ministry bubble. Couple of brief thoughts...

The possibility of youth ministry as a full-time vocational calling is something that has grown in validity and changed in meaning over the last couple of decades. Youth ministry is thought to be a viable career (or is at least beginning to be) for someone wanting to serve in vocational ministry. As the article mentions, youth ministry is shifting from something for the "young, cool guy who is good with kids" (which is encouraging for me, since I'm not as young or cool as I may have once been). These types of ministry positions are more highly valued (or maybe just more common) than they used to be. The staffing of someone hired specifically to coordinate a church's ministry to young people is seen not only as a good idea, but as a normal, even essential, part of a church's overall programming. As churches seek to meet the needs of those in their local community, teens are recognized as an important segment of the population not to be overlooked, especially given much of what is happening in (post-?)modern youth culture.

All of this isn't simply throwing more weight behind lock-ins, water balloons, and rounds of 'chubby bunny'. Those serving in youth ministry are relied upon for a wide range of skills; managing budgets, planning programming calendars, leading trips, teaching the Bible, counseling teens and parents, communicating with youth, recruiting volunteers, being an expert on youth culture, etc... The skills necessary for all that is expected of most youth ministers can make it seem as if 'professional juggler' needs to be on the job description. As noted in the article, "there is an avalanche of resources" for those serving in youth ministry these days from a variety of publishers, and training for ministry positions has improved and increased.

As society has created, or at least prolonged, that phase we call adolescence, it's exciting to see how the church has responded to the call of God to reach all people with the message of his love for all and to invite teens to live into the reality of God. There are still many ways that youth ministry needs to be reshaped, reformed, and reimagined. But then again, there always will be.

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What am I (not) doing?

With a busy schedule this week and lots going on, I ran across this quote and thought I'd share.

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." -Henry Ford

I often have daydreams about "what it could be like" or "what if it were this way" or "ohh, i'll try this". There are times that my dreams die just being dreams. It's like I've got something really good in mind, and I want to hold on to it until just the right time, and then it never really happens.

You remember that part in "Big Daddy" where Sandler walks into the apartment and everyone yells, "Surprise!" thinking it's his room-mate and his buddy's girlfriend cries, "We wasted the good surprise on you!"

I don't want to waste the good surprise.

I guess I just need to act on some of those more than I do, and follow through on those ideas. Not that I'm concerned about building a reputation, but that I'm not taking action on these things down deep inside.

It's almost like I'm just burying the stuff.

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