Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guess who's coming to South?

Frankly Speaking readers can be the first to know: Brother Ron Otto will be returning to South Lansing Christian Church on February 15 to preach the Sunday sermon. Ron ministered at South from 1993 to 2006 before becoming the Senior Minister at Lincoln Christian Church in Lincoln, Illinois.

Ron did amazing things while at South. When he mentioned to me that he was going to be in the neighborhood on February 15, I got pretty excited. I already planned to be out of town that weekend and, when the speaker I planned to have here graciously allowed Ron to take his spot, the way was paved for Ron to once again preach in the church where he made such a big impact.

So, spread the word, friend. Ron Otto will be preaching at South on February 15!

I'm feelin' for you, Mr. President

Read an interesting tidbit this week about President Obama. Apparently he mistook a window for a door and, upon trying to enter the Oval Office from the portico between the West Wing and his personal residence, ran into a rather large pane of glass. Thankfully he wasn't injured.

I feel for him. He's in an unfamiliar place. He has the whole world watching every move he makes. He wants to make a good impression. And he runs into a window.

I've had the same experience. The first time I went on a retreat with our staff at South Lansing Christian Church we went to a cottage owned by one of our families. I planned to grill out for everyone and walked through the dining room intending to go outside and light the grill. Instead, thinking it was already open, I walked into a (very clean) patio door. I nearly broke my nose. The staff nearly broke their funny bones they were laughing so hard.

Thankfully the door didn't break and, aside from a bruised ego, there was no permanent damage.

If I had to guess, our new President probably had a chuckle at his own expense. He strikes me as the sort of fellow that doesn't take himself too seriously. Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, you're probably going to have a very hard time making your way in the world.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Irrrrelevant . . .

Most online news outlets seem to be encouraging readers to comment these days. From time to time I like to drop in and see what the crazies have to say about any given subject. Here in Lansing, there seem to be handful of folks that spend a considerable amount of time commenting on news stories. (Do these people have jobs?)

Of course, I never mind a cogent, relevant, logical thought even if it is in the comments section. As a blogger, I value the comments of my readers - except those big meanies that beat me up over the "Thoughts on my daughter's BF" post. Unfortunately, "colorful" commenters seem to be a bit too frequent at LSJ.com. Consider these examples . . .

In an article headlined GM to slash 1,200 local jobs, the Journal announced another round of layoffs here in Lansing. Already deeply affected by the automotive meltdown, Lansing expects to suffer even more from this devastating blow to our community.

One "Chestercopperpot" opined:
Please watch this show. It's 30 minutes of your life that feels like 400 years. Be sure to pay attention to the high quality public access production value. Notice the dust, unbuttoned shirt, effects of a poor diet, and strange enough, you can actually see the various smells.
Huh? Was he reading what I was reading?

Brother pot is not the only enigma hanging out at the LSJ comment column. When the LSJ wrote a story entitled, Closed Stores foretell year ahead, experts say,"alwaysright2" offered this bit of helpful commentary:
Cheney and Rumsfeld were an important part of the Nixon administration. We never held Nixon responsible for his crimes so the criminals felt they could get away with crimes in the Bush administration too.
Yeah . . . um . . . okay. So apparently Dick Cheney was personally responsible for Steve and Barry's closing. Did I miss something? Did Steve and Barry go pheasant hunting with the former Vice President? The connection with Donald Rumsfeld makes a little more sense. Maybe Old Navy just got caught up in a round of base closures, or . . . something . . .

Truth be told, the best cracked pot reading isn't the actual responses to the LSJ's journalists. Nope, it is the comments written in response to . . . other comments. On a good day you might even be able to find someone freaking out on a third or fourth generation comment. Not that I, um, spend that much time looking.

For example, "tim74" reveals that his favorite pastime might not be reading the news, but rather might just be cracking on the folks that comment on the news. When the LSJ announced the retirement of a local elementary school principal, one former student commented, "Bill Thorson was my own Wacousta School princable. he will we hugly missed and loved. I wish him well."

Timbo sensitively wrote in reply "Hope he didn't teach spelling to you."

Nice. Very civil.

I've tried in vain to come up with a spiritual application for this phenomena, what with this being a preacher's blog and all. No luck. I guess I'll leave it up to you, faithful reader, to make the application.

Just post it in the comments section.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trolling for dollars

Myself, Mrs. Frankly, and our little Frank-ette are headed to Haiti in March to assist a surgical team at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. This vital mission brings hope and healing to poor Haitians living on the Northwest corner of that island. Tracy will be using her recently completed Registered Medical Assistant's license in the birthing center and in the recover room of the mission's hospital. Abigail will be working in the infant orphanage to organize their inventory of baby clothes. I will be working with the Bible College training pastors and working with the local church. When I am not preaching and teaching, I will be doing laundry in the hospital's central sterile supply.

I launched a causes application on my facebook page today to help raise funds for our trip. The cost of the trip is $1500 each, for a total of $4500 for the three of us.

I thought I would also use this forum to ask my faithful Frankly Speaking readers to partner with us by praying for us and, if God enables you, by donating to our effort. I would love to know that you are praying for us during our trip on March 13-21. And, if you can help contribute, even a small amount, it will help us immensely. Hundreds of people drop by Frankly Speaking each week. If you can join even a few others in contributing, it will begin to add up and make a difference.

If you're moved to do so, please make your check out to South Lansing Christian Church and send it to:

ATTN: Frank Weller
South Lansing Christian Church
6300 Aurelius Rd.
Lansing, MI 48911

When you do, write "Weller Mission Trip" in the memo line. We'll make sure you're properly receipted.

And, thanks for helping us help Haitians.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Walkin' in a *%@#^$ Winter Wonderland

My friend, "Johnny on the Scott" recently announced that he is moving to Inverness, Florida to become the Senior Minister at First Christian Church there. In my email reply I told him, "I hate the cold. Therefore, I hate you. Congratulations on the new ministry. Love, Frank." [Note to the humor Nazis commenting on the previous post: John knows I was just kidding.]

Seriously though. Winter in Michigan has been tough so far. Our maintenance supervisor, Chris, knocked this mammoth icicle off the building yesterday and laid it on the floor of my office.

I thought about firing him. In fact, I might have actually told him he was fired. [He knew I was kidding, too . . . I think.]

The best thing about winter is that it kills the bugs and sets us up for a glorious Spring. In Florida, John will view Spring as a harbinger of the hot and humid days that lie around the corner. Me, I view Spring as a time for life to renew. A season filled with mushroom hunting, catchers and pitchers reporting, daffodils and tulips, and the dog rolling around in the grass, grateful to be released from her long winter hibernation.

Okay, I guess I can live with winter - not that I have any choice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts on my daughters BF

So my daughter has a new boyfriend. I haven't actually met the young man yet. We told our daughter when we gave her the "you're-old-enough-to-go-out-on-a-date card" that, before she could go anywhere with some suitor, that they first had to meet me, the DAD.

So Abby has been trying to arrange a meet and greet with young William all week. Apparently there is a basketball game at Everett Friday night and he wants her to accompany him there. So far, it hasn't worked out to meet the youngster.

She tells me he is a good boy. Of course she says that. Charles Manson's squeeze probably told her old man the same thing: "Daddy, whatever you do, don't look at his tattoo. He's very sensitive about it. And besides, all the boys are inking their foreheads these days." I'm sure Will is a good guy, though. My daughter is generally a good judge of character.

There are two musts that I insist upon, two inviolable standards that I expect from any young man who wants to date my daughter. First, he must be a Christian. And by that, I don't mean a kid who attends church just because his folks do, or some dude that hangs out with the youth group because it's a place to cruise Jesus-chicks. I expect a for-real, sold-out-to-Jesus sort of believer. If he is one of those, he's already light years ahead of most of the testosterone factories that ambulate through the high school hallways every day.

Second, he must treat my daughter with respect. Open the door. Buy her dinner. Do what he says he is going to do. And, by all means, keep his hands north of the 10th parallel and well south of the 40th. Theologians call the area of earth bordered by the 10th and 40th latitudes the "10/40 window." It refers to the area where the most "unreached people groups" in the world live. Where my daughter is concerned, the 10/40 window is closed. Preferably, he will not touch her at all, but if, occasionally, his knee brushes hers (the knee is the 40th parallel in my mind), I guess that is okay. But only accidentally. If at all. Come to think of it, let's just have no touching. It would also be nice if he says "yes ma'am" to Mrs. Weller, and it would be nice if he was sort of terrified of me, too.

Beyond that, I have a lot of flexibility. Turns out young William is in the Everett band. That's good. He plays the clarinet. Benny Goodman played the clarinet. Band is definitely a plus in his portfolio even if the clarinet is a bit too sultry in this particular instance. Earlier this week he had to get off the phone because he needed to study - another admirable trait.

It seems unlikely that I can meet Will prior to Friday night's game, so here is the plan: Friday afternoon I am riding along with Officer McNamara. As a Lansing Police Department Chaplain, I frequently get all geared up, complete with uniform and bullet-proof vest, and ride along with the officers. McNamara is a canine officer, so (I think) he's not assigned to a particular district. If that is the case, I'm thinking Mac and his dog and I might need to drop by Everett High School during the game for a public relations visit. In uniform. With the dog. And meet Will.

Yeah, that sounds just about perfect.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am reading Watchman Nee's book Sit, Walk, Stand.

Dean Trune told me that Watchman Nee, after being arrested by the Chinese government, was never allowed to be alone with anyone because he always ended up leading them to Christ. His jailers placed him in solitary confinement. Even then, he kept converting the guards. Eventually they took the extraordinary steps of cutting out his tongue to silence him.

He never wrote a book. Notes taken by those who heard him were eventually published in book form. Sit, Walk, Stand is Nee's look at the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 1-3, he says, are doctrinal in nature, while chapters 4-6 are practical.

Frankly, it is one of those books that I am going to have to re-read. It is too difficult, in parts, for me to get the first time around. One part I do understand, though, is this:
Too many Christians have all the doctrine but live lives that are a contradiction of it. They know all about chapters 1 to 3 of Ephesians, but they do not put chapters 4 to 6 into practice. It were better to have no doctrine than to be a contradiction. Has God commanded something? Then throw yourself back on God for the means to do what he has commanded. May the Lord teach us that the whole principle of the Christian life is that we go beyond what is right to do what is well-pleasing to him.
Wow. I think that describes the church I grew up in. We were more concerned with being right than being well-pleasing. In our movement it was really easier to grow up knowing about Jesus, than it was to grow up knowing Jesus - at least it was for me. I am grateful that we seem to be striking a more balanced chord in recent years. There may be a few that throw out the doctrinal baby with the bath water but, for the most part, we seem to finally be getting that we must obey the scriptures and have a relationship with their Author. At least I hope we are.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good advice from Glenn

I often listen to Glenn Beck when I am in the car. He said something earlier this week that has been bouncing back and forth in my mind ever since. His comment: "The key to living successfully is acting proactively."

I think he is right.

Two nights ago I told the youngest of the Franklies to snow-blow our driveway. I suggested he do the neighbors too, having noticed it had not yet been cleaned out. He did; then last night, as we were cleaning our garage, the neighbor came by and handed him $21. He said, "No, no, I did that because we are neighbors, you don't need to do that." She insisted; so did he. Finally, he relented when she said, "Consider this as payment for the next time, then."

That is proactivity. Jonah cleaned her walk and driveway and earned enough money to pay his way to the youth group lock-in. How can I, at 41 years old, learn to do what Jonah has learned at thirteen?

Frankly, I react far more than I proact. I allow circumstances or events to dictate what I do. My calendar is filled with reactions. As I look through what I am working on, I see too little "sharpening of the saw." Too much going on in quadrants one and three and not enough in quadrant two.

My intentions are there. I arrive at the office planning to sequester myself for two or three hours of seeking God and sermon preparation. Someone drops by. The phone rings. The computer alerts me to a newly arrived email. (I have a thought that I just have to blog.) Soon I am following a rabbit trail that leads me far from my intended course. And, it is difficult to discern which of these are "distractions" and which are fundamental to my work as a pastor. The Apostles thought it wrong for them to "neglect the ministry of the word" to minister to people's needs, and yet I am certain that they didn't turn their backs on folks.

Where is the line? How do I balance being proactive in my ministry with reacting to the people I minister to? And, what would it take for me to become less of a reactionary and more of a "proactionary?"

Discipline, I suspect. Discipline to lay out my calendar and stick to it. Discipline to plan my meals and my workouts and refuse to deviate from my plans. Discipline to get to bed on time so I can get up when I intend. Plan the work; work the plan. Pay the price. Just do it. All the accurate axioms that I too easily relegate to platitude status.

I tell the people who come to me for marriage advice, "Having a good marriage is 20% knowing what to do and 80% doing what you know."

Maybe I need to take a page out of my own playbook and work a little harder at putting it into practice.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Love this musical!

Tried to rip Abby's DVD of Hairspray to her iPod today but failed. Sorry sis. Here is something that should make you smile, though. - Love, Dad

Monday, January 05, 2009

A (not so typical) day in the life of . . . Frankly Speaking

A full day today for Frankly Speaking. At the risk of seeming incredibly vain, I thought I would share my first full work day of 2009 with you, my faithful readers.
  • 4:30 AM - Alarm goes off; roll out of bed; shower; put on a suit for LPD Chaplain duty
  • 5:00 AM - Leave for office to retrieve stuff for Chaplain's Lineup
  • 5:20 AM - Arrive at office; get stuff; leave
  • 5:30 AM - Purchase pies at Meijer; one apple, one Dutch apple, one peach, and one cherry
  • 5:50 AM - Arrive at Lansing Police Department North Precinct and begin cutting pies; make contact with command staff
  • 6:00 AM - Lineup
  • 6:10 AM - Chaplain's Lineup; introduce chaplaincy program; show Dave Ramsey video; Dave Ramsey video doesn't work; invite officers to attend Financial Peace University; serve pie
  • 6:30 AM - Leave for home; call daughter on the way to make sure she's up; she announces 2-hour delay for Grand Ledge High School
  • 6:45 AM - Arrive home and check News Channel 6 to confirm school delay; watch thirty minutes of lions eating stuff on Discovery Channel; leave house
  • 7:30 AM - Arrive at Fitness USA and begin working out (interval training on the treadmill); run into "Tiny", the youth pastor from Trinity Methodist, who helped coach Jonah's football team
  • 8:30 AM - Finish workout; shower (amazing water pressure); head for home
  • 8:45 AM - Make sure kids are up (again) and cook breakfast for them (very atypical for me)
  • 9:30 AM - Take Jonah to Beagle; Abby and Caleb to Grand Ledge High School
  • 9:45 AM - Head to South Lansing Christian Church for work
  • 10:15 AM - Arrive at office; visit with Micki, Sue, Wally, Chad and Tim
  • 10:45 AM - SEEK time; Reading from Hebrews 11-13; journal; pray; journal some more
  • 10:55 AM - Drop in visitor; set SEEK time aside
  • 11:45 AM - Good visit; back to SEEK time
  • 12:15 PM - Prep for Staff Meeting
  • 12:20 PM - Drop-in visitor; prep-time set aside
  • 12:47 PM - Back to prep time; scurrying to get ready for staff meeting
  • 1:00 PM - Waiting on staff to arrive for 1 PM Staff Meeting; (I've set a bad example for timeliness and I didn't communicate to the rest of the staff my newly minted resolve to be punctual)
  • 1:20 PM - Staff meeting begins (finally)
  • 2:30 PM - Leave for LPD afternoon lineup
  • 3:10 PM - Chaplain's Lineup; repeat spiel from 6:00 AM, pie inclusive
  • 3:30 PM - Leave to return to office
  • 4:00 PM - Meet with parishioner; pray for his troubled marriage
  • 5:00 PM - Reply to emails
  • 5:05 PM - Check the news: Drudge, LSJ, Fark
  • 5:35 PM - Pack up computer
  • 5:41 PM - Leave for home; listen to podcast of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me on the way
  • 5:50 PM - Check the mail; no check from Indiana house yet; stress about bills
  • 6:30 - Enter nutrition and exercise for today on gyminee .com
  • 6:51 PM - Supper with the family (Hamburger Helper and green beans)
  • 7:45 PM - Leave for Chaplain's Lineup
  • 8:10 PM - Chaplain's Lineup; repeat spiel from 6:00 AM and 3:00 PM; more pie
  • 8:30 PM - Leave for home; stop at QD to get snacks for Abby and Caleb; show Abby a parking meter 'cause she says she's never seen one before
  • 9:00 PM - Arrive at home
  • 9:45 PM - Wii bowling with the Franklies - I won; Wii tennis with Frankette - won that, too
  • 10:46 PM - Finish writing this post; worry that it is incredibly vain; post it anyway; go to bed

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thanks, Claiborne . . .

The Providence Journal is reporting that former United States Senator Claiborne Pell passed away yesterday. Serving in relative obscurity, Pell's name will forever be synonymous with the grants that bear his name.

I received a Pell grant in college. I hope that, in four years, when I have a daughter and a son both in college, that they might receive Pell grants too.

It's funny. Someone I never met helped make it possible for me to go to college. Who knows how many times I have been blessed by the efforts of someone I never met. Pell grants.

Thanks, Senator.