Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Juneteenth

Do you know what Juneteenth means? Ever wonder what the history behind this holiday is. Well, I found this article on the University of Texas website, which I believe is as good a place as any to learn about Juneteenth seeing as it comes out of the experience of Texas slaves. Below this article have have left some links to other websites out there relating to Juneteenth.

JUNETEENTH. On June 19 ("Juneteenth"), 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The news elicited an array of personal celebrations, some of which have been described in The Slave Narratives of Texas (1974). The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African American about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.

The day has been celebrated through formal thanksgiving ceremonies at which the hymn "Lift Every Voice" furnished the opening. In addition, public entertainment, picnics, and family reunions have often featured dramatic readings, pageants, parades, barbecues, and ball games. Blues festivals have also shaped the Juneteenth remembrance. In Limestone County, celebrants gather for a three-day reunion organized by the Nineteenth of June Organization. Some of the early emancipation festivities were relegated by city authorities to a town's outskirts; in time, however, black groups collected funds to purchase tracts of land for their celebrations, including Juneteenth. A common name for these sites was Emancipation Park. In Houston, for instance, a deed for a ten-acre site was signed in 1872, and in Austin the Travis County Emancipation Celebration Association acquired land for its Emancipation Park in the early 1900s; the Juneteenth event was later moved to Rosewood Park. In Limestone County the Nineteenth of June Association acquired thirty acres, which has since been reduced to twenty acres by the rising of Lake Mexia.

Particular celebrations of Juneteenth have had unique beginnings or aspects. In the state capital Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen's Bureauqv and became part of the calendar of public events by 1872. Juneteenth in Limestone County has gathered "thousands" to be with families and friends. At one time 30,000 blacks gathered at Booker T. Washington Park, known more popularly as Comanche Crossing, for the event. One of the most important parts of the Limestone celebration is the recollection of family history, both under slaveryqv and since. Another of the state's memorable celebrations of Juneteenth occurred in Brenham, where large, racially mixed crowds witness the annual promenade through town. In Beeville, black, white, and brown residents have also joined together to commemorate the day with barbecue, picnics, and other festivities.

Juneteenth declined in popularity in the early 1960s, when the civil-rights movement,qv with its push for integration, diminished interest in the event. In the 1970s African Americans' renewed interest in celebrating their cultural heritage led to the revitalization of the holiday throughout the state. At the end of the decade Representative Al Edwards, a Democrat from Houston, introduced a bill calling for Juneteenth to become a state holiday. The legislature passed the act in 1979, and Governor William P. Clements, Jr., signed it into law. The first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration took place in 1980.

Juneteenth has also had an impact outside the state. Black Texans who moved to Louisiana and Oklahoma have taken the celebration with them. In 1991 the Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution sponsored "Juneteenth '91, Freedom Revisited," featuring public speeches, African-American arts and crafts, and other cultural programs. There, as in Texas, the state of its origin, Juneteenth has provided the public the opportunity to recall the milestone in human rights the day represents for African Americans.

Juneteenth National Holiday Campaign


Twin Cities Juneteenth Celebration

Generation Lost?

I ran across a reference to this article on another I blog I read Faith in Action.  My good buddy over there pointed me to this article in ChristianityToday which referenced the article run in Outreach magazine, a Christian Magazine dealing specifically with issues of evangelism and outreach. The author/apologist Josh McDowell says the American Church is losing a generation as youth leave the Church in alarming numbers. What do they believe? What are the issues? And how can churches turn young people back to God?  Recently, McDowell sat down with Outreach Editor Lindy Lowry to talk about what young people think about church and Christianity, the need for intergenerational ministry, and what church leaders can do to help avert this growing crisis. I am not going to post the entire interview just some interesting points I picked up on, if you would like to read the entire interview you can get it here.

The main thing I got from this article was just to give more thought to youth ministry.  I think for one thing our messages to youth must be more engaging, we can't e relational as Bro. McDowell suggests in the article if we can't relate. That's a big thing that Bro. McDowell overlooks, communication, we adults have to admit we have a hard time understanding and being understood by youth.  A lot of time the gospel message just doesn't translate into youth hip speak or whatever you get my point.  I found an example on youtube.com of  Tye Tribbett ministering to youth at one of his concerts and it is awesome the way he translate the gospel language in a powerful, revelatory way.  In my view he really opens them up to hear the Word of God in a way that would make them want to make that commitment to living for Him thats why I put Tye's video at the beginning (part 1 of it)  and end (part 2) of this post. 

Lindy Lowry: Josh, you say that Christian young people are walking away from the Church. Are they walking away from the modern traditional church or Christianity?

Josh McDowell: It's a balance. Parents tell me, "Josh, my child is losing his faith; he no longer believes what we've tried to share with him his whole life." Basically, any parent with a child 15 years of age or younger, will probably hear phrases like, "Well, Mom, that's your truth" or "If it works for you guys, wonderful—but it doesn't work for me."

My research and observations tell me that youth are walking away from their perception of what Christianity is and teaches. They're saying, "The church I've attended since I was young is no longer relevant to me." They're not really saying that Christianity is irrelevant, but it's how they've understood Christianity.

LL: How do they understand it?

JM: They define Christianity primarily by their experience with their church's youth ministry or youth group, which they see as boring. They attend for the fun, food and fellowship, but for most kids, the youth leader's "spiritual devotional" is boring. Remember, though, that half of today's churches run less than 75 attendees overall, and can't afford a full-time youth leader. So for most kids, youth group involves a small number of students led by a volunteer youth worker with little expertise and little time to prepare...

 ...They see church as more of an observing and listening place than a participating and interacting community. They're there, but nothing really gets through to their minds and hearts, and as a result, we see little transformation in their lives. And that's why when they get to college and their philosophy professor starts to talk about other faiths and beliefs, they fall away. They were never grounded in the first place, even though they were at all the church events. Events are only valid if they initiate or intensify the transformation process. The idea of just throwing in events with no real purpose other than to keep young people busy or entertained is counterproductive, as the research shows...

LL: Why does process-driven ministry resonate with youth?

JM: Because it's all about relationships, and today's teenagers are perhaps the most relational and community-oriented generation in history. Studies reveal that relationships score extremely high in the hearts and minds of our young people. God gave us truth relationally, through His Son. So we must teach truth relationally, which means understanding that we have a relationship with our heavenly Father, which drives how we live...

LL: What are the first steps to becoming process-driven?

JM: I am a big believer in intergenerational youth ministry. We have such a departmentalization of Chris-tianity when everyone goes to his or her respective, age-specific areas on the weekends. The toddlers go to one place, the tweens, another. The youth have their spot. The marrieds gather here, the singles there. The seniors are someplace else. Kids need to learn the truth of the scriptures from other generations and see how it's worked out in their lives. Hardly any family sees that today. Churches should offer one or two classes for the whole family on Sunday morning. Youth come with their family, and they learn truth and experience community among the generations...

LL: How can leaders evaluate their youth ministry to determine if it's process-driven and transformational? Are there any signposts they can look for?

JM: They need to observe their youth, then ask themselves some questions: Has there been a change in the belief systems of my kids? As I talk to them, is it different from talking to a non-Christian young person? Have I seen distinct changes in their character? Are they more involved in how they talk about God and Christ? Has there been a change in their pattern of worship? What are their relationships like with their friends? Are they influencers or are they influenced? Are they sharing their faith? Also, if their parents are not playing a big part in their spiritual lives, there's a great chance that youth will walk away.

Dude, Dell is getting into the Tablet PC market!

Just $6 Campaign

I was listening to the podcast of Word for Word, a program of American Public Media, which each week features an interesting and timely speech on a hot topic in the news. I caught the podcast titled "Former Senators Want Money Out of Politics", the video of Former Senators Alan Simpson and Bill Bradley arguing for public funding of campaigns is below. Anyway, I believe this is a critical issue, we, the people, must get more involved in the political process to make this a more democratic country. I strongly believe the more voter participation in our electoral process the democratic our country will be and the more democratic our country is the fairer, and more just society we will be. Here is a short explanation of the idea of public funding:

Public Funding: What It Is

Simply stated, voluntary public funding means that the federal government provides all candidates who qualify for federal office--president, vice-president, senate and house--with adequate funds to run a credible campaign for election. These funds will come out of the federal budget whether from the general fund or from revenue raised specifically to support public funding. Qualified candidates will no longer have to rely on private contributions from big donors to run a successful campaign. Public funding will truly restore the integrity and vitality of our democracy by eliminating the profound influence of wealthy special interests on our national priorities.

What's more, because those in office won't have to spend valuable time raising money for their next election, our leaders will spend more time working for us.

Here is what the just $6 campaign has to say about itself:

Congress would only have to spend $6 per citizen per year to publicly fund each and every election for the House, the Senate and the White House. When you consider that "pork barrel" projects cost every one of us more than $200 last year alone, it’s no contest.

Think of it. With public funding, wealthy special interests and their hired lobbyists would no longer have a commanding influence over our politics and government. Instead of begging for campaign donations, candidates would spend their time communicating with voters. Once elected, our leaders would be free to focus on our nation's challenges rather than having to worry about financing their next campaign. And there's no doubt that more of our most able leaders would run for federal office when the ability to finance a campaign isn't such a daunting obstacle.

Americans for Campaign Reform is building a nonpartisan grassroots movement of citizens who support voluntary public funding and want Congress to act now. We can make this happen. Public funding is already working in Arizona and Maine, and was just passed by the Connecticut legislature.

As citizens we can complain about the corrosive influence of our election finance system, or we can do something about it. With your help, we can mobilize citizens across the country and put pressure on Congress to enact real reform.

Video: Bill Bradley and Alan Simpson Support Publicly Funded Elections

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vacation Bible School 2007

Vacation Bible School 2007 is already over, it seems like it just started a couple of days ago, which it did. A week is really too short for VBS, but tell that to all the teachers, administrative people, Kitchen, and Nurses' Ministry folk. Two weeks would be a lot to ask of them, then again it is not me asking, but Christ: and working for Master is the most gratifying work one can do. Anyway, we will talk more about it in the days to come. Even though this week went incredibly my prayer is still that we be a little more organized next year. I was very impressed with the class my 5 year old son was in, he came home knowing the lesson objectives, stories, and scripture from the week with some cool crafts to boot. . Very impressive somebody had to have been really working with him. Thanks Tammy and Lakel. A heartfelt thank you to all the adults that served in our VBS this year and blessed us with gifts and talents this week.

Here is a slideshow of some of the scenes of from VBS 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baby Photo Update

Esprit Jazmin Nevaeh is almost 2 weeks old and cute as a button. See for yourself.

Pulpit Pimps

I rolled up on this site the other night, and I like to have swerved off the road from laughing so hard; this was only my initial reaction mind you. This cat is writing a blog called Pulpit Pimps, at this point it might be argued that I am online too much if I am rolling up on spots like this. In any case, even though I have posted links to the site I am not necessarily endorsing it. In my opinion, most of his post are not particularly enlightening and do little to add to the already growing numbers of skeptics and discontents calling into question the integrity of many of the purveyors of postmodern televangelism. So you don't especially have to go there, here is what I found to be the most humorous example of the postings in his blog. Beware it is over the top (thats what makes it so funny), but once you get beyond the humor you must grapple with this age old issue even Jesus pointed to, see Matt. 7.15 and John 10.1-18.

You Might Be Gettin’ Pimped!

While they aren’t fool proof, there are certain indicators that can indicate whether or not you are being pimped. With a tip of the hat to Jeff Foxworthy, always remember:
  1. If you are waiting at the bus stop on Sunday morning and your pastor drives by blasting “Money Comin’” in his Rolls-Royce Phantom . . . you might be gettin’ pimped!
  2. If it’s easier to get in to see the President of the United States than it is to see your pastor…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  3. If the pastor’s armor bearers have better weapons and communications equipment than the Secret Service…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  4. If your pastor is on a first name basis with more celebrities than he is with people in the congregation…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  5. If your pastor spends more in restaurants than you spend for groceries for your family of four…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  6. If your pastor’s garage has more floor space and is better heated than your apartment…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  7. If your pastor’s house can be seen from space with the naked eye…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  8. If you pastor owns more property than Donald Trump…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  9. If your pastor’s “ministry” has him constantly shuttling between Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Lake Tahoe in the “ministry’s” business jet…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  10. If your pastor’s address book reads more like the “Who’s Who” of the local political party…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  11. If one of your pastor’s cars cost more than your house…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  12. If your pastor owns more cars than there are days of the week…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  13. If one of your pastor’s suits costs more than the total your family spends on clothing for the year…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  14. If your pastor has given his children cars that you have only dreamed of…you might be gettin’ pimped!
  15. If your love offering equals your car note and your breakthrough still hasn’t come . . . you might be gettin’ pimped!
  16. If you suddenly get the feeling that you’ve heard your bishop’s sermon preached somewhere else before . . . you might be gettin’ pimped!
  17. And finally, if your pastor’s love offering is larger than the gross national product of the average third world country…you might be gettin’ pimped
Ha ha, he he very funny but this post should raise a serious question in the mind of every church member (though may be not in such explicit terms): "Is my pastor pimpin', or preachin'". As a pastor I struggle as I am preparing every sermon with the fundamental questions: Lord, am I telling people what you want them to hear or what they want to hear? Is this message relevant or just contemporary?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The True Import of Applicable Preaching

As usual, my brother preacher over at soulpreaching.com has a wonderfully thought provoking article on his blog. Talking essentially about the need for sermons to be practically applicable as well as socio-politically relevant, (well, maybe he doesn't explicitly say this, but I think I know what he means), my brother made me take a pause and remember one of the great lessons my pastor has been trying to teach me for years . Minister Cox states, " ...too many sermons are 'Lectures' and not 'Sermons.' The people are given facts or are given an argument that a fact is true and then the sermon ends without the people knowing what to do with the information. " This is one of the great sins of preaching according to my pastor and I don't think Cox or the author (one Eugene Lowry) he is quoting would disagree with that. In fact, my pastor believes in the centrality of practical application to gospel preaching so much so, that he clearly identifies an "assignment" in every sermon he preaches. I am not quite there yet in my preaching, but I aspire to be at least that intentional in my sermonic endeavors. Pray for me.

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

It's a girl!!!!! Of course, we knew that already. Nef is such a trooper, she made giving birth look easy all the nurses and the obstertrician were complementing her on how cool, calm, and collected she was.
That's my girl unfadeable.
The actual birth looked like it was going to be hairy at first. The obgyn thought the baby was going to be real big like over 9 lbs, because Nef was having such difficulting pushing. But eventually, after she pushed and pushed and got the head to turn, the next thing you know Esprit (that what I want to call her) crowned and popped right out: all 8 lbs and 3 oz of her. Thank the Lord. God is so good, yet another beautiful, bouncing baby girl.
On a similar note, we were talking to one of the nurses about epidurals and she said she had seen women give brith and not even know it. She said on one occassion a family member saw something moving under the cover and called her in who when she pulled the cover back discovered a brand new baby. Now, I find that hard to believe.
Okay, I am going back to hold my baby now. Keep us in your prayers.

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The Birth

Hello World, Check me out I am here and I am cute as I wanna be. We will be posting more pictures of me in the coming days.