Archive for August, 2006

the battle horn has been sounded

Posted in Church, Race on August 31, 2006 by Avery

I have been on the ONE campaign mailing list for a very long time now, and today they sent out an article that has made me really ponder, to take a deep look at what I am doing, here read it for yourself:

“I believe the fight against AIDS and global poverty is the fight of our generation. I recently asked my father where he was during the American Civil Rights movement, and if he felt a pull to be involved. As I listened to his answer, I thought, “What will my children hold me accountable for?” In the years to come, when my children ask me what I did to fight AIDS in Africa and how I tried to keep millions from needlessly dying of poverty, I want to have an answer. A real answer. This is the fight of my generation, and I will not pretend I don’t understand what devastation will occur if I do not act. The ONE Campaign gives me a voice in this most important battle, and I intend to use it.”

So where have I been in the war on poverty? Where am I in the current revolution of the church? I’m not saying the back row is a bad place to be, for some people, but I want to be at the forefront of my generation, I want to be there fighting the good fight, I want to have my band of merry men charging in behind me, I want to make a difference.

People let’s be honest and look at the facts, the American church does not have the same passions that the Jesus of the Bible had. We don’t act like the church of Acts did. And we definitely don’t have the zeal or dedication of the Old Testament. We build big mega millions crystal cathedrals to showcase our interviews with Hollywood celebrities behind the pulpit, but you better show up dressed to the hilt because the bouncers will put your butt on the street before they put you on in the sanctuary where one of the TV cameras may pick you up. The community soup kitchens are constantly understaffed and very under funded, the homeless shelters are closing down left and right from lack of support.  But in the same breath there are soccer fields being leveled out behind the churches that your kids can pay $100 bucks to join their team on. The church is proud to promote those that protest abortion clinics, but dude, you can now buy and abortion in a bottle over the counter at the pharmacy because the so called Christians of America refuse to vote according to their beliefs. Well those denominations that still have any beliefs, it’s becoming more and more popular to strip the Christian part out of the social machine called the American church.

It is this kind of thought that made me jump out of my skin with joy when the national director of the Vineyard, Bert Waggoner, stood up at our regional conference and rebuked the entire denomination for being passive about the passions of our society, for being a predominantly white denomination, for not being at the forefront of the environmentalist causes, for not spearheading the empowerment of women within the roles of the church, for not doing enough for the orphans and widows, well to sum it up, for being a typical American church.

I’m not a tree hugger, but I can tell you a lot about our environment and what we need to do, and the 14 mpg SUV you are driving yourself around in doesn’t quite fit the mold. The 40% waste per household per year in FOOD ALONE makes me sick, and don’t get me started on the $100 haircuts.

Fighting the “good fight” isn’t enough anymore, if it was we would be seeing a change. No it’s time for the people who “get it” to stand up and force their community to take notice. It’s time to braid your whip and go into the temple and remind them of who Jesus was on that particular visit. It’s time to stop being introverted with the battle and to take it to the forefront and to lead the charge with your comrades in arms. It’s time to move. It’s time to get real and to start living your faith like it is something real.

We are so afraid of offending others by making them uncomfortable with our lifestyles, and we are afraid of the uncomfort we will have ourselves by leading the battle. But the time for sitting around and waiting for someone to show up to lead the battle is over. We aren’t going to have a big name to follow, that day and age has passed, this battle is going to be fought by you and me, the people in the trenches who are tired of generals that have forgotten how to fight. It’s going to be led by communities of brothers that link arms to take the challenges one day at a time. It’s going to be overcome by those of us that feel the urgency stopping our waiting, stopping our lack of action, stopping our cauterization of our hearts.

Open your eyes and look around. You are not alone. The passion that is in you, the unsettled feeling that you know there is something deeper than what you are living now, it’s all over the place! OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND SPEAK!! I promise, they are there and you will draw them in. You will draw them in for the purpose of moving forwards and impacting society.

It’s not about starting a “movement” or having a name. It’s about the desire for racial reconciliation in the church, the most segregated area of America today. It’s about the passion and brokenness for the orphan and the widow. It’s for the love and desire to protect the environment God gave us, and that he created in majesty and splendor and we have tried so hard to destroy. It’s about raising up women to their God given place, at the side of man, not under his feet. I’m not blind, the church as a whole is made up of women worker bees, but the leadership of the church establishment is still a boys only club. It’s about loving the sinner as much if not more than the saint, and being real and relevant to the society we are in.

It’s about losing religion and finding Jesus then following Him no matter the cost to your “place”.

It’s about being radical, believing you personally have the power to change the world, then doing it. I had that belief once, I don’t know where I lost it, but this adoption has reopened that casket and there is new life in that old corpse.

I want to challenge you to look at where you are and to listen to the heart God gave you, the passions He put in that heart and then look at yourself again. Do they line up? Which direction do you need to head to get there?

It’s not where you thought is it? But it sets the hairs on your neck on end, makes your heart beat faster with the anticipation of getting to the end result and makes your imagination run wild with the future doesn’t it?

The battle isn’t the same for everyone. Some are going to join up with me in the quest for racial reconciliation in the church. Some will join me with the quest to promote transracial adoptions. Others are going to have to take on the AIDS epidemic, woman’s empowerment, the environment, church worship, financial stewardship, globalization and the global economy. The battle is at your front door, and your heart is already screaming out for your head to listen to. You already don’t like me because you have been fighting this call to action in your own head for a long time now. But it’s harder to fight when you see it in writing isn’t it?

So do it. No excuses. No more waiting for someone else to write a book on how to do it. No more waiting for someone else to pave the way so you can stay a follower. I, Avery, am telling you to go out there and to lead this battle. I am telling you that you can do it. It’s not a safe journey, but it’s going to be the best one you have ever been on.

Now, I believe you may have a conversation you need to have with your family.

Wednesday Caption Me #2

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by Avery

As a clue to what this is go read my wife’s blog

Caption #1 Winner

Posted in caption me, contest, winners on August 30, 2006 by Avery

So first off thanks for playing.

Secondly the story behind the photo was on my final walk to the orphanage in Ethiopia I was taking photos of the region. I was photographing some shoe shine boys and this guy hollers at me, “HEY YOU, TAKE MY PICTURE TOO!” I oblidged and walked over and showed him his photo and he stands up and hollers “KONJO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” While pumping his arm in the air.

I don’t know if the keg was empty or not, and I doubt Addis has any college frat boys on teh side of town I was on, but he seemed like he would have fit right in with any frat party here in teh states…. It was Saturday morning and he may have been waiting for the ride home from the all nighter…. who knows…

And finally the winner, because he got the biggest laugh out of me is,

insert drumroll here,

are you pounding on the desk yet?

Well start.

I’m not telling you until you do.

Louder.

I don’t care that you are at your cubicle at work.

do it

do it now

I give up, you are no fun…..

The winner is:

Rich with “Why is that dude with the Lion tat staring at my keg?!!”

discombobulated serenity

Posted in Church on August 30, 2006 by Avery

I’m sitting alone in my small and crowded house, surrounded by my desolate city of 65000 people, looking towards my window that is coverd by it’s drapes, perplexed at the enormity of the small thing we call life. Perplex and beffudled, wishing for the complexingly simple life of the oompa lumpa, the premeditated formulated life of the Boondocks family, the gloriously deceptive freedom of the Easyriders bikers, any thing but the life of the middle class family in the Bible Belt of America. Knowing that it would be so simple to reach up and turn the welcome sign off on the front door, to walk away from the situations that cause so much turmoil, to abandon the ones that I am told I am challenging to grow, and to move on to a place where I can pretend for a while to fit in.

For my readers that don’t attend church on a regualr basis you are probably really scratching your head right now, trying to figure out what on earth I am going off about, but for those that are in the same boat as me, you probably have had the same blenderized thoughts in your head at some point in time.

I’m not saying my church is bad, or even at a bad point, I’m just at one of those points in my life that I’m lookin at my surroundings and looking at myself and not seeing how the two really mesh. My wife tells me that i am affecting people in ways I don’t see, but I’m not seeing the return in that investment, instead I feel the drain and frustrations of trying to find a way to make myself force this trapazoid peg into the square hole. I don’t think there is an answer, not really, I don’t really know what lies in wait for me on the other side of this hump, hill, mountain, whatever it is. But I sat here tonight in my kinship group listening to a woman tice my age (technically she’s 58 so she is 2 years shy) voice the same frustrations as me, telling the group she is at the same place as me, but she is vocalizing it.

OK, so what hope is there? What does one do when they begin to see the church as a whole has fallen asleep, gone dormant in society, refuses medical treatment, and despises you for trying to arouse them from their slumber?  I am so so so far from being an example of what it “should” look like, but I’m trying, I’m putting forth effort, and I encouorage others to do the same. I know I’m not alone in this journey, but it seems as if I’m alone here, at least I’m alone in what my heart is passionate about. I’m tired of the sub par, I’m tired of going with the program just because it’s the program, I’m tired of being frustrated.

I guess I’m just venting, I have this soapbax, it’s mine, I can use it for what I will, dialogue with me though on this one, what are your veiws on where the church in America is, compared to where we say we beleive we should be, and what do you do with that?

30 Days of Nothing

Posted in Church on August 28, 2006 by Avery

A 30 day fast unlike any I’ve ever done before. A 30 day fast from consumerism. 

Please take the time to click the logo and follow the link to the original article and please read it and consider participating. I spoke with my family this weekend and we are on board, I need to contact Bek to find out some details on the deal with the bicycles for jobs for families in Kenya as that is where my kids would like the money to go. Of courts they only want to do it if they can have a photo of the person who receives the bike, actually they wanted to go to Wal-Mart and buy one of those cool OCC bikes that I ride around the garden section of the store on and mail it to them, but we finally convinced them that mailing a bicycle to Kenya was a little out of range for us. Lucas is content as long as the bike is a “manly color” or in his words, “NOT PINK” 

Before I ramble too long the idea is to fast/boycott all extraneous consumerism. Now for us this isn’t that big of a deal, we don’t eat out that often, we don’t shop unless there is an actually need, our grocery budget is lower than my college bar tabs, and we live a very, very basic lifestyle, no cable, we don’t rent movies from overpriced rip off chains, we own only 1 car and 1 motorcycle and have 2 people that need transportation in the house (unlike the house holds with 2 drivers, and 5 vehicles) We do most of our clothes shopping at the Salvation Army, but for this 30 period that all ends. Now imagine the families that both spouses swing by their local Starbucks every morning, eat at some restaurant every day for lunch and at least ½ of the dinner meals are restaurant or take out. Simply cutting out Starbucks will put $50 a week in some people’s wallets.  

Now take the money you spend on consumerism and put it in a jar instead of spending it. At the end of the 30 days find some charity that can use the funds and give it to them. I encourage you to invest into a developing nation, of course I’m a huge advocate for the Horn of Africa, and there is major needs in Ethiopia right now due to the flooding, but every family has different passions, fund yours.  

I’ve also talked to my Navy buddy and he is talking to his family about it as well.  

We are kicking the thing up for bigger impact with our kids and we are going to attempt to “theme” out the weekends.  

One of the things I talked about with my buddy, that we can’t do as our kids are too young, but his are just right for this one, is to take the kids to the grocery store on Friday night. Hand then $3 and tell them they are going into the store and what they come out with is what the family of 4 will eat for the next day and a half. 4 meals, Friday night and all 3 on Saturday. The kicker is going to be when they try to “fix” the meal with spices, butter, salt or pepper, remember, they have to buy it on Friday to use it, so that stuff is ALL OFF LIMITS!  

Another one of the things we are going to do is to pick a weekend and starting on Friday night we will only eat rice. Plain old wild rice (the white stuff would just be too cruel, even developing nations don’t use that junk) Then on Saturday after lunch we will be packing into 1 vehicle to a set destination at least 6 miles from where supper is. We haven’t decided on the supper yet, but I’m thinking of choosing an ethnic meal or preparing something similar to what the emergency aid programs supply. At the drop off point every one will be given their backpack to carry (a couple of beach towels in them for our kids, just enough weight to get the picture) and then we can walk to supper. The walk isn’t the killer, our family has done these treks before, we make our kids hike the Appalachian trail to some NC tourist spot a couple times a year, the kicker is you are doing it on the energy rice provides to your body.   

We are also planning on taking a weekend and not use any electricity. Turn the central air off (it’s not on most of the time now anyways) No TV (not that big of a deal around our home) But also no hot water, no stove, no access to the fridge, no lights.  

Get the picture? 

For many it’s so easy to just write a check and tell you to go away, but we want to train our kids to have a global perspective, not an Americancentric lifestyle. Our goal is to raise $60 $30 so we can pay for 1 bike. Like I said we live a simple life already, so the budget isn’t really tweaked all that much. But the bigger picture for us is that our kids learn what it is like in a small fashion for the majority of the world. Our personal goal is that our kids know from their earliest memories just how blessed they are to be here, and what that means that their responsibility is to the rest of the world. Honestly in our house it’s nothing to go 30 days and to have not bought anything except food, so we are ready for that aspect, but the rest of it will be interesting.  

Please won’t you consider joining us?

 

Video and Request

Posted in Church on August 25, 2006 by Avery

So during the Steven Curtis Chapman concert he got up and said he was going to play us a song he had written for our troops a few months ago. He then continued to say the song has never been recorded, nor did he think it would be, but as a vet I fell in love with the song.

As the fates would have it I had my handy dandy digital camera and it shoots video as well!!!!  The video quality is poor on the video, and I missed the first 2 seconds of the song, so it starts right as he starts singing, but the song is awesome!

I served in the Army during Desert Storm and Bosnia, luckily I stayed stateside support for my brief carreer there, but I have a deep respect for my brothers that took the battle over seas. I am proud of my boys in green and proud of what they do for our country.

Regardless of whether this is a war we are supposed to be in, whether it’s being fought for the right reasons or not, we need to support our boys over there and give them the hero’s return they deserve when they come home.

I would like to ask you to click the e-mail link here, and e-mail Steven asking him to record this song, if not for an album for a single for support of our troops.

sccmusic@stevencurtischapman.com

Please take the time to write a short e-mail telling him that you want to hear this song on the radio, on your i-pod, in the deserts of Iraq, and the coast of Tripoli.

Thank you Steven for this encouraging song for our troops.

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of this video, it does focus at random times enough that you can see Steven playing the piano, but for the most part it stays out of focus.

So without any further rambling, I present you with the first in Leave it to Avery exclusives:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3193977650120673058

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcFdKTS3OUA

I gave up fighting the embeded player, click either of the links, they are the same file.

World Help

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2006 by Avery

http://www.worldhelp.net/defaultArticles_video_my_will.asp

This weekend we are hosting some of the kids from the Children of the World International Children’s Choir, a program of World Help. As I understand the program the take orphans from all over the world and take them on tour for this program for a year. They then return to theit home country and are returned to the orphanages they came from.

As far as the program raising awarness and compasion for the plight of the orphan I’m really on board with these guys. And from what I can tell I really like what they are doing in the countries that they are in. I’m just really torn on what I think about this choir.

First off they are bounced all over the country, in various homes, constantly on the road. Lots of exposure sure, but no stability.Secondly they have a life of absolute luxury for a year, but then they go back tot he very problem situation they came from. Exactly how are they supposed to process all of that?

I am looking for feedback from people on their program, I’d like to hear back from anyone that knows anything about these guys.

By the way, the link is to a really cool video of theirs from one of the songs I loved during college.

http://www.worldhelp.net/defaultArticles_video_my_will.asp