Friday, April 28, 2006

Global Night Commute: SATURDAY

This Saturday night, April 29, we have an opportunity to make a global difference.

A few years ago, three college guys from California took a trip to Africa to tell a story. With no travel or film experience, they still created a film called "Invisible Children" that documents the children who walk miles into the cities of Uganda at night because they fear being abducted by rebel forces. They are referred to as the "Night Walkers."

Over 1 million people have now seen the film. Check it out on Oprah featured them on her show yesterday. Also, this Saturday night, thousands and thousands of people have committed to join in the Global Night Commute in various cities.

All Global Night Commute info can be found on the invisible children website or on the Global Night Commute page on myspace. I will be there along with many friends, so please post with your email address if you need cell numbers.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Weddings--Take Cover

“At a wedding, you must always be prepared for anything. Ripped pantyhose, lost buttons, lipstick on a wedding dress, drunk groomsmen, bad hair, hysterical mothers, brides who change their minds, preachers who are no shows. Let nothing throw you,” instructs my mother, the queen of weddings.

As a child, I spent countless Saturdays in churches helping my mother coordinate weddings. Most of the weddings she directed contained a cast of friends or family that she dearly loved. Grown-up students, children of friends, church family, and neighbors became beautiful brides and handsome groomsmen in weddings that Mom coordinated. Twenty-five years of Family Living Weddings, the mock wedding her class performed each semester, added to my wedding experiences as well. She directed each wedding with grace and style, always honored to be a part of their sacred celebration.

I, on the other hand, felt much less enthusiastic about my Saturdays being taken. Instead of spending Spring afternoons with friends by a neighborhood pool or in a playroom full of Barbie dolls, this 10-year-old was holding a walkie-talkie, cueing groomsmen, or fixing a French twist gone bad.

One wedding was particularly traumatic for me. Mom realized that the bride did not have anyone videotaping the ceremony. She called my father, and he brought our personal video camera up to the church. Since the bridesmaids were about to come down the aisle, she sent record and me upstairs to set-up the camera. Even though I was in the third grade, she never let my age stop us. We were a wedding tag team.

Unfortunately, a problem quickly manifested. The tripod squeaked terribly, so I sent Heather Hutton, also in third grade, downstairs to get Mom. “Heather, ask Mom to bring up some WD-40,” I requested from my sidekick. My grandmother taught me as the importance of WD-40 in situations like this. Heather ran downstairs, but Mom was too busy with the bride to hear about our problem. When they watched the video later that night, all they heard was the high-pitched screeching and the delightfully wicked giggles of little girls.

Mom passed on her knowledge to me, and I find myself directing weddings and making wedding bouquets more often than I ever dreamed. We have seen a mother slap a bride. She said her vows with a swollen handprint on her left cheek. We have used leaves from trees when florists did not show, and we can cut a wedding cake in two minutes flat. Between the two of us, we have been a bridesmaid 17 times.

Why do we so easily lose sight of the commitment in the middle of the chaos?

Donald Miller says in Searching For God Knows What that we marry Jesus when we start following Him. My wedding experiences have caused me to become a bit jaded towards the wedding events. After some couples spend thousands and thousands of dollars, fight viciously with those that matter most, and worry constantly about what people will think of them, they find themselves overwhelmed with disappointment. All they have when it is over is each other. They forgot to fall in love.

May we never forget to fall in love with Jesus as we walk through our lives with Him. Dear friends, please do not let the tasks and talk of Christianity prevent you from loving the One who loved you first. Let us remember that love and carry it deep in our hearts.

On May 13th, Carol and Caroline Ingle will be the guests speakers at the Mother/Daughter Garden Tea at First Baptist Church Conyers. Tickets are $15. Reservations can by made by calling Janice Craven at (770) 483-8700.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

New Painting

This is what I did last night, instead of finishing my sermon or cleaning my house. However, I finished both of those this morning. All is well.

Friday, April 21, 2006

May the Love of Jesus Surround You

“May the love of Jesus surround you/ May the love of Jesus pour forth/ May the love of Jesus surround you forevermore/ In the hearts that have been broken/ In the hearts that have been torn/ May the love of Jesus surround you forevermore.” (Andrew Phillip, “May the Love of Jesus Surround You”

It all began on Monday. After giving up all movies and television for the season of Lent, the time had come for me to indulge. I wish I could say that my fast from television was simple, but it was an overwhelming struggle. Even though I rarely watch T.V. at home, the desire for it was greater than I ever imagined.

A few friends hosted a movie night directly after Easter in my honor. The couches were moved; the television was ready; the party was a go. “Invisible Children” came up on the screen (Check to learn more). This film tells the true story of three college guys who set out to film the tragedy in Sudan. They ended up in Uganda, overwhelmed with the story of the children there. Thousands of children in Uganda have been abducted and forced to fight and to kill others. These children commute every night to sleep under hospitals and to hide. Thousands pile together, no adults present, and stay together as a family.

Tuesday came as a shock. Six months ago, a church a few hours away scheduled me to speak at a youth event and then a women’s conference next weekend. The associate pastor called me to ask if I was associated with a certain Christian leader. This leader has become an influence in my life, and his wife is a mentor to me. Because of that friendship, he banned me from his church. Even though I had spoken at the women’s conference at their church last year, he still will not allow me to come because of who I called my friends.

Wednesday, a 16-year-old friend had surgery on her legs. She gets around in a wheelchair, and this surgery should help her start standing. With both legs casted, she welcomed us with a smile. In the next hour, she laughed, joked, sang, danced, and rapped most of the lyrics of the most recent T.I. CD. Her beautiful attitude and welcoming spirit overwhelmed me.

Earlier that day, I ran into the grocery store to pick-up a balloon for my friend in the hospital. An older woman that has known me all of my life stopped me on my way into the store. Her friend has died earlier that day. “Caroline, I’m getting really tired of everyone dying. I am afraid that when I die all of my friends will be gone already. Do you promise to come to my funeral so I know that someone will mourn?” she asked. I told her that I was a guaranteed sure thing.

What do the wounded have in common?

The invisible children of Uganda, an angry pastor hundreds of miles away, a teenage girl in the hospital, a woman in Conyers who lost another friend, and another woman wondering how God meets all of these needs share one common bond. They are surrounded by the love of Jesus.

“May the love of Jesus surround you/ May the love of Jesus pour forth/ May the love of Jesus surround you forevermore/ In the hearts that have been broken/ In the hearts that have been torn/ May the love of Jesus surround you forevermore.” (Andrew Phillip, “May the Love of Jesus Surround You”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Have Been Banned From A Church

Due to my association with Emergent found on google, I have been banned from a church. They scheduled me to lead a few seminars months ago for an event next weekend, but that has been cancelled. The associate pastor called me yesterday to inform me of the change.

Please pray that I come to understand why.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Invisible Children

On April 29, 2006, the city of Atlanta will be participating in the Global Night Commute. Come and join those speaking out on behalf of the invisible children of Uganda.

Stop what you are doing and check out

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Money Egg Hunts

Easter always brought out my competitive streak. The entire church would take the children over to Joanne Caldwell’s house for the Granddaddy of all Easter egg hunts. She would section the yard off according to age groups, and they would set us lose. Bowties, smocked dresses, and Easter baskets would fly into the spring air as we soared out on our quest. We had one purpose that day, finding the prize egg.

Mrs. Joanne hid the egg in different places each year. However, I tried to keep a mental list going year to year. She was destined never to repeat herself. One year, I looked up into the nook of a tree in the backyard and saw the prize egg shining back at me. After cashing it in for the chocolate bunny, I could sit back, relax, and bask in my victory.

Once I entered middle school, the Easter egg hunting days seemed to end, until the day my parents began to watch “Survivor.” My mother, who is a creative holiday genius, decided to create the annual Ingle Ultimate Reward Challenge. We finished Easter dinner, and she called my family into the yard. Each person was given a basket containing an envelope. The directions in the envelope led us from one clue to the next. Each destination held four eggs and one more clue. Mom specified that we were each to select one egg when we found a basket. After successfully rolling our eyes and handing the baskets back to her, my brother and I headed back inside. We are all adults now? Why would we have an egg hunt? Mom stopped us with the simple words, “Some of the eggs have money inside. In fact, I put a few $20s out there.”

We turned, picked up our baskets, and raced to the first stop. Grandma, however, predicted Mom’s big surprise and had already snatched her first egg. Even though at 27 years of age I was the youngest participant, my mother found a way to get us all in the game. The money egg hunt still happens. Somehow, Grandma still keeps finding all of the $20s.

How much does it take to get us in the game?

As a follower of Christ, I confess that He really did die on a cross for my sins. After three days, He arose from the grave. That means that Christians really believe that two thousand years ago, someone did not create a brilliant story to appease the masses. God actually took on flesh, walked among humanity, showed them a higher way, died on a cross, and then conquered death on a day now called Easter.

What are the consequences in our lives of Easter? Tony Compolo describes the reality of the eternal by saying, “in the spiritual connectedness, I sense Jesus taking all of my sin away from me. . . This love that fills my soul is an expansive dynamic energy that at times constrains me to give it away to others.” The reality of Easter should be evidenced by the eternal demonstrated in our lives.

The power of the Easter account moves me. Mark 16: 6-7 reads, "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Our Jesus has risen! It is the truth of our lives. Today, let your life reflect Him. If He is alive, then we are alive as well.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I've Just Ruined Another Pair Of Jeans

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) God made something we could hold.

As a person who makes art, I find great inspiration in those words. Not only did Christ decide to walk around with us, broken humans that He loved desperately, but that statement also proves that God is an artist. His art was made of flesh; it was Jesus. People call this the “Incarnation.”

The story of God is told throughout history in so many ways. The Bible tells the story of God from the very beginning and His story continues into the future. This story tells of the God who loves His creation, which includes all of us, and He sent His Son, to us. People tell the story of God with their lives, in sermons, through books, and with their prayers.

Historically, artists would render the story of God through their work. Certain eras of time found art as the primary medium for telling of God. During the Renaissance period, most people could not read. Artists illustrated the story of God by painting chapels, reflecting it on canvasses, and carving statutes we can still travel and see. Each time a sojourner sees the art, he or see visually can understand the redemptive story of God.

Since the early Christian church, artists have created a prayer path that reflects the journey of Jesus from the Garden to the grave. They say you can still walk “The Stations of the Cross” while visiting Israel. Many Protestants calls this “The Way of the Cross.”

This year, I am participating in “The Way of the Cross” in Conyers. My assignment: create a piece of art that tells the story of the agony in the garden. My art must reflect Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. The weight of this project burdened me for weeks. My past projects included subjects such as flowers in a vase, leaves floating in water, a sunset at the beach, and cherry blossom trees.

Can our limited imaginations and trembling hands paint the story of Jesus?

The other artists found themselves in the same struggle. One artist is illustrating through stained glass the followers of Jesus laying Him in a tomb. Another spent the week searching for vines and thorns to make a crown of thorns. They asked questions that we could not ever answer. “How can I paint the face of Jesus on the cross?” “Whose perspective do we see His death from—those in the crowd, God in Heaven, the thief on the cross beside Him?” Creating the artwork forced us as artist to dwell on the life of Christ and tell about Him through our work. It was horrifying and magnificent.

This piece of art wore my fingernails thin and my jeans are speckled with green, grey, orange, and red. It will not sell for millions or hang in a museum; however, God taught me about inspiration through it. I read the prayer in the garden over and over and over. The words are carved on my heart. After praying and asking for the image, I dipped my brush in the paint.
Throughout time, artists moved through this same process. Songwriters travel through it when they create an original score. Preachers use this process when writing a sermon. God continues to tell His story through art He makes with our hands, our words, our lives.

What story does your life tell?

“The Way of the Cross” Prayer Path at Conyers First United Methodist Church (921 Main Street in Olde Town Conyers) will be open Monday, April 10, through Wednesday, April 12, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is open to the public. You are also invited to "Holy Week, The Passion of Christ":, April 13-April 15 at 7:30 p.m., presented by the Music Ministry. Admission is free but seating is limited, contact the church office to reserve tickets (770-483-4236).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Way of the Cross: #2

I'm at step 2! Isn't that an old country song, "I've Gotta Long Way To Go And A Short Time To Get There"?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Way Of The Cross

As of now, it looks like an old, broken door. Matt & Jay found it on the side of the road. Those B.B. boys stopped and picked it up for me; they knew it would make a great piece of art.

Hopefully, they will be right.

Our church is creating a "Way of the Cross" art exhibit/prayer path that will be open during Holy Week. It illustrates the journey of Christ from the garden to the grave. I am responsible for the Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The door will be my canvas. I found it terribly symbolic. However, procrastination is working against me here. Pray that major progress happens tomorrow!