The Search is On...  

Posted by BT

Well, the job search officially commences tomorrow, although it has been unofficially underway for some time now. Unfortunately, the two most promising leads both fell through on Friday of last week, so we're kinda back to the start, I guess. It's not a great feeling not having a job, not knowing if there's one in sight, not knowing how I'll continue to provide for my family. Not so great at all.

My faith is shaken.

By the way, Happy Birthday, Dave Ballenger.

A Radio Appearance  

Posted by BT

Tomorrow morning at 8:35 AM Eastern, I'll be appearing on my friend Obadiah's radio show to promote my new web site. Dave Ballenger and I hatched the idea for this site, and, since Dave moved back to Ohio, I've kinda taken things over. The site provides information for people who play fantasy baseball...I'm hoping to make it an extra source of income for our family during this time of transition...But we'll see. Either way, it's something I've really enjoyed putting together. Special thanks to my brother-in-law, Brian, who gave me a badly needed tutorial on HTML while I was in Florida recently. If you think the site looks great, give all credit to him. If you think it looks lousy, that would be my fault. :) Anyway, I'm posting this far too late for most of you to actually get on the website and listen...But, Obi told me they'd be archiving the interview, so if anyone wants to remember what I sound like, you should be able to hear soon.

My time in Florida was good...Thanks for asking, Chris. And thanks to any of you who thought to say a prayer for me. We spent the entire weekend talking about how Christians should treat others, especially "the least of these." A few kids came up to me after the services and told me they had received a call to full-time missions. Humbling.

I just finished reading Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies," an account of what went on in the White House before, during and after September 11, 2001. I believed it was a bad idea to invade Iraq all along, but this shed new (disturbing) light on the subject. I learned things I didn't really care to learn. It's interesting...I know some people will read this and totally agree with me, and some will read it and disagree vehemently...I'm not interested in the partisanship that apparently comes with being an American these days. I'm sure if I were to read something written by some pro-Bush, pro-Republican person, they would tell the other side of the story with equally convincing rhetoric.

One things I said to the teenagers in Florida is what it boils down to, I guess: Mass genocide and other atrocities have been carried out by Americans (and those of other nationalities) in the name of Christ, and I can't imagine anything Jesus Christ would want to distance himself from more than those things. My friend Kevin wrote a great piece on his blog the other day about the trendy, non-violent stance of many Christians these days. (Kevin, if you ever read this, I really appreciated what you had to say.) My other friends, Kyle and Eric, replied to Kevin thoughtfully. Even in the midst of their replies, I found myself wondering if I was becoming a non-violent because it was the cool thing to do, the thing my friends were doing. After finishing this book, and re-reading Matthew 25:31-46 about 50 times this past weekend, I'm sure the opposite it true. Jesus Christ longs for non-violence...Jesus Christ longs for peace, especially from those who readily claim his name.

Now that seems like about the most obvious thing I could have possibly said.

Now Reading: Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

In Florida  

Posted by BT

In about an hour, I'll speak to a group of teens from the Central Florida District. Strange how people hear about you...I did a short bit at a missions conference in Kansas City for headquarters, and all the sudden I have a speaking engagement in Florida? And for teens? The Lord does have a sense of humor.

I'll talk to them about the Kingdom, and primarily about "the least of these." Using Scripture, Nouwen's Reaching Out, and excerpts from some of my recent reads (see post below), I feel like the Lord has given me something of value to say. Please pray that I will say it well, and that they will hear Him clearly (even through the remnants of the southern accent).

Thanks to all of you who have written your support in our mini-dilemma. It's remarkable how God has always cared for us, and I don't doubt, as one of my good friends wrote, that He will meet our every need. No decisions have been made, but nothing has been ruled out.

I can't believe I forgot to post the best news of all in the last week.

Now Reading: Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice


Posted by BT

...I lost my job.

My boss called me in and told me that there was no more funding available for my salary, and that I had until the end of February.

We'd appreciate your prayers.

Now Reading: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, by Richard Clarke

Recent Reads  

Posted by BT

I've been reading lately like it's my job (wouldn't that be nice), so I thought I'd post a little bit about what I've read, if for no other reason than to summarize for my own sake.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons
Kari got me this book for Christmas, and it was the first thing I read when we returned home. The Advent sermons are outstanding, and the editor had access to some previously unpublished letters, including some from prison, that Bonhoeffer had written to his fiancee and to his friend, Eberhard Bethge. Because of some other things I've been reading, I'm especially fascinated by Bonhoeffer's involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. This reminds me of Gandhi's statement that nonviolent opposition to injustice is best, but violent opposition is better than nothing at all (forgive the rough paraphrase). If you don't know much about this martyr, find out about him. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books, given to me by my good friend David Ballenger, Life Together.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
When Brian McLaren was on campus here at MNU, he recommended this book to us. I was incredulous at some of the things I learned. The Americas (North, South, and Central) in the 15th century were much more populous than our American history textbooks would have us believe. When Columbus and other Europeans arrived, they found sophisticated cultures with advanced levels of commerce, the arts, and especially agriculture. So how did the Europeans eliminate them so quickly, you ask? Two reasons: Enormous four-legged creatures that were incredibly strong and fast, the likes of which the Native Americans had never seen (yeah, horses); and, more importantly, the Native Americans hadn't developed an immunity to some of the diseases the Europeans (and their animals) carried, especially small pox. And this is staggering: Over the 15-20 years after the Europeans first arrived, 25 million Native Americans died of small pox...About 80% of their entire population. One lighter note: The reason we call them Indians is because when Columbus landed, he thought he was in India (must've been some compass).

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
I'll not attempt to summarize what Wallis says in this brilliant piece of work, only to say that he is a prophet of hope. He has hope that right-wing extremists who do not have a consistent ethic of life can see the error of their ways. He has hope that left-wing extremists who have become "allergic to spirituality" may find the hope of a compassionate Jesus. He has hope that a frighteningly partisan America is, perhaps, on track to become more aware of poverty and disease, and the havoc they are wreaking on the world.

A New Kind of Christian
This is the first in a quasi-fiction trilogy by Brian McLaren. It's been especially interesting to me because he was here on campus recently and shared many thoughts from this book. In fact, the entire conversation that takes place at the coffee shop between NEO and the wavering pastor was his outline in sessions two and three. Kari also got me McLaren's A Generour Orthodoxy for Christmas, and she was clever enough to get him to sign it while he was here without me knowing it. A book that McLaren wrote with Tony Campolo will be re-released in paperback in a few months. What's so cool about that, you ask? I proofread it, that's what.

The Kingdom of God is in You
This must be the shortest book ever by Leo Tolstoy, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I'm still wading heavily through the first chapter.

Give It Away
This isn't exactly a read; it's the new CD from the Gaither Vocal Band. I've been very pleased with it, though, for three reasons: 1) The title track is all about "taking everything that you have" and giving it away, for the right reasons; 2) There is a great tune with the African Children's Choir about celebrating the differences between cultures, and recognizing other children of God for what they are; and 3) It has a fabulous rendition of a very old, familiar classic: "Jesus Loves Me."

Coming Soon
When you get most of your books at the library, sometimes you have to bunch your reading up. That's what I'll be doing in the next few weeks. Among my upcoming reads:

-Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice
-The Challenge of Jesus, by NT Wright
-Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, by Richard Clarke
-Lies my Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen

I've also added the Nouwen journal Gracias to my stack...It will be a re-read, but I saw where Doug is reading it in Honduras, and I think it gives me a feeling of solidarity with my old roommate.

And, with baseball season looming, I've picked up a couple books by/about Jack Buck, the late Hall of Fame radio broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In Other News
We could use a few prayers today. Kari's dad, Dick, has been in the hospital all day today with a bleeding ulcer, and he may need a blood transfusion. He's doing better tonight. And, my brother-in-law, Brian, got laid off today. EA moved he and Sis down to Orlando just a few months ago, and today they told him and thrity-four other employees to hit the road. If you think about it, or even as you read this, say a prayer for Dick, and for Brian and Sis. Thank you.

Now Reading: Well, I guess I just told you, huh?