Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Seven words in a sermon. . .

Sunday, one of my college professors, George Brown, preached at South. George is one of my favorite writers - a real word smith.

His sermon title was, "The Cost of Confession." He explored Peter's confession of Christ as Messiah in Mark 8. George told us, "Death is a choice of style. We cannot choose if we will die, but we can choose how." "Why would anyone choose to follow the bloody path which He marked out with his own death," George asked, "except that He is the Christ?"

That's not all George said. I kidded with him after the service. He used seven words that I have never before heard in a sermon. Here they are, along with their definitions (for those of you who attended DeKalb High School - you know who you are):
  1. dissuaded - past tense, to turn from something by persuasion.
  2. inculcate - to teach and impress by frequent repetition or admonitions.
  3. untenable - not able to be defended or occupied.
  4. paradox - a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.
  5. ignoble - of low birth or common origin; characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness.
  6. heinous - hatefully or shockingly evil.
  7. neoplatonic - the philosphy which conceives of the world as an emanation from an ultimate indivisible being with whom the soul is capable of being reunited.
Of course, George uses thse words like I use "the" and "if." They roll of his tongue with an ease that gives testimony to - not only his learning - but to his authenticity.

Afterward I began thinking about other words that I don't hear much in sermons. Words like "holiness," and "sin." It has been a while since I head the word "hell" in a sermon. When was the last time you heard the word "gluttony" in a sermon? Or the word "pornography"?

Chances are, there are a lot more words that I could and should be using in my sermons. Of course Dave Stone writes, "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day." Those of us who live and die behind the "sacred desk" each Sunday are challenged to do both. To speak the right words and to live them.

Frankly speaking, that is one tall order.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Battling boxes

Spent the day unpacking the forty plus boxes in my new office at South Lansing Christian Church.

I had no idea how many books or how much stuff I have. Whew! It is a lot.
Later this afternoon the folks from DISH network came by to install our DISH system. I was really geeked about it because the Cubs are on tonight at 7 P.M. They're only 1/2 game out of first place, and I was all primed to watch 'em win. Alas! The DISH guys need to call "Miss Dig" to get permission to drive the post into the ground. Lame! No Cubs.

So, I'm sitting at a Beaner's Gourmet Coffee cafe checking the line on the game and blogging on my new MacBook Pro. Very cool.

An evening at the Lickety Split

We're moved into our new home in our new hometown, Grand Ledge, Michigan. It seems like a nice place, so far.

Last night my sons and I rode our bikes to the Lickety Split for an ice cream cone. Grand Ledge is the sort of place where residents argue - good naturedly - about their ice cream. There are two summer stands where folks can buy frozen treats: the Lickety Split and the Corner Cone. Grand Ledgeians (is that the right word?) seem divided over which is best.

We enjoyed our cones from "the split." The only reasonable thing we can do now, though, is to stop by the corner cone and decide for ourselves.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Born again . . .

It's a simple act, really. Plunged beneath the waves, sins are washed away. The Holy Spirit comes to reside within. The promise of eternal life is secured.

It is simple, but it never fails to fill me with awe and reverence.
At the conclusion of camp last week, I was privileged to baptize Brianna Mausteller.

She who is young enough to be my daughter has now become my sister.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Tough Day

I preached my most difficult sermon ever at Butler Church of Christ this morning - my last. After ten incredible years, our family is answering God's call to move to Lansing, Michigan.

The church held a potluck today in our honor. It was really great as so many BCC'ers offered kind words. There were many tears. We shared lots of hugs and handshakes.

I'm really going to miss Butler Church of Christ. The faithful here have worked their way into my heart. As I prayed this morning, I leave with a "Butler Church of Christ shaped hole in my heart."

While that void will eventually be filled, only BCC is the perfect fit.
I am excited to move on to what God has planned for us at South Lansing Christian Church. Nevertheless, I leave with bittersweet feelings. While leaving is hard, I know that God has greater things planned for both me and for BCC. I can't wait to see what they are.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Out at old Lake James

I'm investing a week at Lake James Christian Assembly, working with 8th and 9th grade students. This is my last week as the minister of Butler Church of Christ. It somehow seems appropriate that I spend it here, one of the first places where I learned to love Jesus and was exposed to the idea that I, one day, might be involved in vocational Christian service.

Now that I'm headed to Rock Lake country, I'm growing more and more nostalgic. This is a great camp!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Women preachers

My buddy Mike recently published a rant in response to a Christian Standard interview of Eleanor Daniel, the brotherhood "Dean of Christian Education." Apparently Eleanor has some "out of step" thoughts about the role of women in the church.

Consequently, I thought I would take a few moments to elucidate my thoughts on the role of women in the church. In a sentence: "I don't have a problem with a women preaching; I do have a problem with a woman preacher."


What does that mean? For too long we've said, "it's okay for a woman to speak to the assembled on Sunday morning provided she stands on the floor and not on the stage; so long as she stands behind a music stand or lectern and not a pulpit; and oh by the way, everyone would feel much better about it if she held the slide projector remote control in her hand at the same time."

This, to me, seems inconsistent.


There are times when a word of exhortation from one of the fairer sex is appropriate. I wonder, for example, why I ought to stand before women on mother's day and tell them how to be better mothers. Wouldn't a word from an experienced well respected woman be more appropriate? Or when I preach something like, "What Every Wife Wished their Husband Knew About Women," doesn't it seem more genuine coming from a female? In situations such as these, I have no problem with a woman who, in submission to the church elders and under their express authority to do so, stands before the congregation and delivers a word of exhortation.

I do, however, take issue with a woman preacher. In the sense that a preacher is an elder "whose work is preaching and teaching," a woman cannot meet the requirements of scripture that an elder is a male.

The issue is one of authority, is it not? In the first instance, a woman preaching under the submission of her husband and the elders is, in fact, submitting to the authority of the elders. In the second instance, despite what us preachers might want to say about being in submission to our elders, we nevertheless yield a considerable amount of authority in the church, particularly in congregations that are considered "staff led" churches.


This is my position. It is one that I hold loosely, and am open to changing. It places me to the left of some of my brothers and to the right of others. That puts me in the middle, I guess. I wonder, is it lonely here, or are others nearby?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Martha's popcorn

Mrs. Frankly and I stopped in at Martha's popcorn stand last night for some caramel corn and a visit with Jack Randinelli. Martha's is an icon.

In 1940, Martha went to visit Jack's grandfather. She had recently lost her job at the Auburn Motor Company and decided to open a popcorn stand. A loan officer at the Savings and Loan, Mr. Randinelli, Martha hoped, would loan her enough to go into business. At the time, the S&L only made loans on real estate. Although the bank couldn't help her, Mr. Randinelli made her a personal loan and a tradition was begun.

Several years ago, as Martha's health began to fade, so did the fortunes of her popcorn stand. It looked, in fact, like the tradition might be lost. Enter Jack Randinelli, the grandson of Martha's original benefactor. Jack bought the popcorn stand, and his wife and daughter continue to operate it today.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can buy a dollar bag of hot popcorn in either butter flavor or caramel until 9 P.M. But come early. As we sat and visited with Jack last night, I'll bet there were at least a half dozen folks who were disappointed to find they arrived after closing time. (On the weekend, the shop stays open until 11 P.M.)


With the recent exhibition of Sculptures on the Square, Martha's has become an even better family destination. For only $5, you can grab the family pack - four bags of popcorn and four cans of soda pop. You won't find a better deal anywhere in DeKalb County. Stop in on west 9th street next to The Evening Star building and get your popcorn fix.

(Check out Chad Gramling's and some other guy's memories of Martha's.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brothers of another mother?

Matt stopped in on the Frankly Speaking porch last night for a visit. I didn't catch his last name.

Reading his bio reminded me of an event over twenty years past. It was the summer before my senior year at Garrett High School. I drove to Ft. Wayne and took the ACT exam. I had one of those out-of-body-in-the-zone type of testing days. It is the best I ever did on any test. I scored a 32 out of 35, which is one of the highest ACT scores I've ever heard of. (Before you get too excited about my intellect, realize I pretty much tanked the SAT.)

Anyway, with such a high test score, I got an offer for a full ride scholarship at a school in Tennessee - some place called David Lipscomb University. I was a Church of Christ boy (and still am), and they were a church of Christ school, so I thought, "let's check 'em out." But like any good Church of Christ boy, I asked a couple respected elders in our church about the college. One elder I esteemed considerably (he has since gone on to be with the Lord) told me, "They're not one of our schools. Steer clear." So I did.

Turns out they are one of our schools, they just don't have pianos.

No regrets, though. My Alma mater Great Lakes Christian College was a fine place to learn ministry. It is also where I met my wife, some of my best friends, and will be within a few miles of our new home when we move to Michigan next month.

So all's well that ends well.

Oh, and Matt. Next time I'll come to your place.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Last library board meeting

Tonight was my last library board meeting as President of Butler Public Library. The board and staff prepared a nice meal in my honor and presented me with a lovely plaque. I have been privileged to serve with some incredible staff and board members. I will miss each one.

Pray for rain . . .

Our area of Indiana is as dry as I can ever remember it. My lawn is dead. My flowers are parched, despite daily watering. Our farmers are beyond nervousness. One I spoke to on Sunday told me that he estimates his yield is already 25% lower than it should be. Without rain, that number will quickly climb.

I was reading Psalm 65 the other day, and I thought perhaps we ought to pray that Psalm for our community. Here it is:
What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers, and to you all people will come. Though our hearts are filled with sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What joys await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry; they provide a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The wilderness becomes a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!
Let's pray for rain. And, when it comes, let's remember to thank the maker of the rain.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Zoo day

Grandpa Frankly took the family to the Ft. Wayne Children's Zoo last week. If you've never been to this premier zoo, you're missing out. It is one of the finest in the Midwest. They recently tore out their African Veldt and are completely retrofitting their African habitat. Part of the redo is a great cable car ride that spans the lot where the new display will be located when it is complete.

I was surprised, in spite of all the construction to see a bobcat in its native environment. Check it out:








My favorite exhibit of the day, however, are the three monkeys I snapped in this pic:







A good day . . .

Today was a great day. We started off with a dynamite worship service this morning. The worship team selected some of my favorite songs that really complimented my sermon. Sunday service was followed by Sunday lunch with Abby's friend Michelle and her family.

The piece de resistance was a night on the lake with our small group. We grilled out a pork loin and a big old slab of beef. Just hanging out with our small group was really good.

Nicer boomers, Butler!

The Frankly family enjoyed watching Butler's Heartland Festival fireworks display earlier tonight. It was, once again, a fantastic display.

Way to go Butler! We're sure going to miss it. . .

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Closed!

The Wellers are homeowners . . . times two! Our closing went according to plan on Friday, so our new home belongs to us (and the bank!). Thanks to all who prayed that it would go smoothly.

Now we need to sell our current castle! If you're looking for a great old home in Butler, Indiana,
check out this beauty! She has great maple trim, a new kitchen with custom maple cabinets, a double lot that is fenced and beautifully landscaped. The basement is guaranteed dry, and there are a number of great updates including some new carpet and lots of new paint (thanks to my brother-in-law Marty).

Call Alan at 260-337-0337 to schedule a showing! End of commercial. Thanks for indulging me . . .

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Just a thought . . .

This week's issue of Christian Standard raises some interesting questions about the blending of patriotism and faith - questions that I asked myself during church last Sunday.

Each year our congregation turns the auditorium red, white, and blue for the month of July. While I absolutely love the decorations our worship folks create the rest of the year, I must admit that I am uncomfortable with this month's patriotic motif.

Why? Simply, because God is not an American. When the church comes together to worship on Sunday our sole focus should be on God and on him alone. While it is certain that God has blessed America, it is less clear that we, as Americans, have blessed Him.

This was especially keen in my thinking this past Sunday. My missionary sister was in the congregation and I couldn't help wonder if she saw the juxtaposition of old glory and "glory to God" as a bit anachronistic. I wondered: "Do they have Guinean flag backgrounds in Guinea?" When my sis lived in France was there a blending of French patriotism and Father-worship? Or what about her Venezuelan friends. Do they as easily blend faith and national fervor?

I love our country. I get teary-eyed when I watch our soldiers marching on the battlefield. I don't for a second take for granted the sacrifice of so many who have made our freedom a reality.

I know I am not alone in these feelings. Britons, no doubt, get a lump in their throat when they reflect on Dunkirk. Still, I can't imagine they use the Union Jack as the background for their worship choruses. If they did, frankly, I would be more than a little offended by them so doing.

I wonder, are they offended by my flag-waving worship?

Happy Independence Day!

A happy 4th to each of you, Frankly Speaking readers.

The Frankly family is enjoying beautiful Jordan Lake and shooting off a boatload of Indiana fireworks to celebrate our nation's independence. Hopefully your family is enjoying one another, too!