Fainting Goats

Fainting Goats

December 3rd, 2008

 

We moved earlier this spring (late March) partly to get a home where we could get an apartment for Kim. Kim loves her new apartment, and Jill loves the two new fainting goats that someone gave us. Their names are Chesley (dark goat) and Edith (light goat). If you go on youtube and search under “fainting goats” you’ll get some really funny videos. Here’s one below that our neighbor took right after we got our goats this spring. He posted it to YouTube.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=LzmfMpPhYOk

I just got one of those phone calls from Jill that tests the limits of my Christianity, “Paul, would you pick up two bales of hay on your way home from work?” What happened to, “Paul, would you get some milk and bread on your way home?”

okay. off to get some hay!

Book Review: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Book Review: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

December 8th, 2008

 

My 84-year old mother, Rose Marie Miller, a full-time missionary in London keeps me supplied with cutting edge books. I’m not kidding. She’s more in touch than I am!

I just finished The Namesake today. It is written by a Jhumpa Lahiri, a Bengali woman, and it is the story of a Bengali family coming to America. It won a Pulitzer Prize and you can see why. Lahiri does a wonderful job of drawing you very simply into the lives of each of the family members as we follow the family for almost 50 years from their life in Calcutta to America first through the eyes of the father, then the mother, the son, his wife, and finally the son again.

It is a melancholy story. The whole book is a search for community, for love. And it is generally a fruitless search. The son in particular keeps trying to find solid ground, but it eludes him. By the end of the book, my heart was aching for people that don’t know Jesus, that don’t have any community to build their life around. The twin issues of personal identity (psychology) and community (sociology) are left unanswered. I thought of the hymn, “I turn unfilled to thee again.”

I’ve been particularly struck by the growth of the emergent church and its quest for community. My son John happened to be with us for Sunday a year ago and heard me talk on community during Sunday School. Afterwards he came up to me and said, “Dad I wish the emergent church could hear this.” I had described how the quest for community never worked. Basically, it is a quest for a group of people who will love me. What does work is to begin to love. Love creates community. It is just another version of Jesus asking us to follow him into his death. My death, my willingness to cease hunting for community and to begin to reach out to to the broken, the lonely, and the hurting always creates community. The only way I can do that is through faith, through relying on the blood of Jesus. So the formula is simple: faith => love => community/intimacy. It is one of the central paradigms of the new testament. Another way to write this formula is Jesus’ death => my death => our resurrection. As I follow Jesus into his death, then life comes.

Kim is home sick today.

The Person of Jesus in Ireland

The Person of Jesus in Ireland

February 13th, 2008

 

I got this email yesterday from a missionary in Ireland who is teaching the Person of Jesus study:

“We now have a nightly Bible study once a month and we have had on average 14-15 women each time. Plus, two Irish women who have NEVER led a Bible study before have taken the lessons and actually taught for the first time! Because the material is so detailed and the questions are spelled out, both women felt quite at ease and did an amazing job! Thanks so much for all prayers for us.

“This material is like a breath of fresh air to so many who have been “religious” their whole lives in Ireland, but have never known who Jesus really is!”

I thrill when I see emails like this, partly because I love to hear about Jesus being lifted up in other cultures and partly because it shows our strategy working at multipe levels. Here’s how….

1. I wrote the Person of Jesus manual for non-teachers. If they follow directions, they can be moderately effective. The manual shows a teacher, step-by-step, what they need to say next. Our goal is for someone to “teach better than they are”.

The manual combines the Socratic method of questions with a transferable style of teaching that can be duplicated world-wide. In our seminars, I describe this method as “Socrates meets McDonalds”. It integrates a right-brain questioning method with left-brain systemization.

2. Oddly enough, professional teachers sometimes struggle initially with the manual’s method because they are used to a sketchy outline and then they fill in the gaps. But there aren’t that many professional teachers out there. There are lots of Christians who are afraid to teach because they can’t see themselves as small group leaders. We hope to provide the ’software’ to help make that jump.

With that in mind, we’ve started to encourage pastors to bring both current and potential small group leaders to our pastors’ conferences. “Let us help you create your middle management.”

3. The other thing that thrills me is that this missionary sees our strategy of focusing on Jesus. The center of Christianity–Jesus– is also the most attractive part!

4. You can also see our marketing strategy at work. We focus on top-down marketing, getting pastors and Christian workers to our pastors’ conferences. This missionary came to our Cape May, NJ ‘04 Pastors’ Conference.

5. Finally, it thrills me to see the study working in multiple cultures. In the last several months, we’ve heard of the study being used in Ireland, India, Indonesia, Peru, and inner city Chattanooga.

Who knows what God might do?

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

November 28th, 2007

 

Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, our second daughter Ashley went to the doctor with shortness of breath and pain in her chest. The doctor took an X-ray to check for pnemonia and sent her home. By 11:00 the pain was becoming unbearable and Ashley drove herself to the ER. They discovered that she had three blood clots in her pulmonary artery. She spent the next two days in intensive care and is planning on getting out today.

As hard as it was, we are so thankful that God spared her life. It made for a very special thanksgiving for us. We were already planning to go to Lancaster county for a family get together so we took Ashley and Dave’s three kids with us, aged 0, 3, and 5.

Here’s Max Frearson, Layne Frearson, and Claire Sneed all sleeping together at Willow Valley, south of Lancaster City.

three_grandkids_sleeping_Thanksgiving_2007.jpg

three_grandkids_sleeping_b_Thanksgiving_2007.jpg

Here’s most of the kids, inlaws and grandkids.
family_at_Willow_Valley_Thanksgiving_2007.jpg

We visited Natasha Miller’s (Andrew Miller’s fiance) farm. After a hay ride, Max and I went up to check out the tractor.
Paul_and_Max_in_tractor_Nov_2007.jpg

Here are Max and I on the hay ride.
Paul_and_Max_Thanksgiving_2007.jpg

Here’s little Jack Frearson, 4 weeks old. Jill was up at night feeding him.
Jack_Frearson__thanksgiving_2007.jpg

Surfing for Books

A poem by Dr. Jack Miller: "Herod"

I know we’re past Christmas, but my mom, Rose Marie, just sent me this poem my dad, Jack, had written in 1958. I’d never seen it before:

“December 25th” Peace Comes to birth Through the womb Of time To earth Comes The Riddle of God Upsetting The Quiet Of Herod How does one capture the mystery of Jesus, of the incarnation? I don’t think you capture it. You just show it. One of the things that makes Christmas so amazing is that, like all beauty, your soul can’t quite take it in. So each year you experience the wonder of the incarnation again because it’s size is greater than your soul’s capacity. It feels like something new because you never understood it completely before. I like Dad’s last line, “Of Herod.” Partly because it is so concrete, so nitty gritty. What we’re talking is a real-time God invading a real-time world. Intellectuals tend to drift into neo-platonism (the world of ideas) and not like the sting of particularity. But our God is a infinite-personal God, engaged with the details of my life. Tommorrow I’m off to our first pastor’s confernce in Tampa. I hope they are captured by the beauty of Jesus and then willing to upset the quiet of Herod in their worlds.

Incarnation instead of Anger

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