Monday, June 30, 2008

Staying Close

I’m thinking very carefully these days before jumping in the car. Our family is combining trips and maximizing every excursion, whether to Greensboro or just to downtown Stokesdale. It seems that everyone is making adjustments.

Some people are selling their gas guzzlers. Some are car pooling. I even talked to a guy who plans to fit his Suburban with a homemade device that will double his mileage. I can’t wait to see if it really works.

In some ways it seems like the world of transportation has taken a great leap back to an earlier era. Transportation has never been as easy as today. With it suddenly getting more expensive, we are recognizing travel as a bigger deal. That’s more in line with the historical perspective on getting about.

A hundred years ago, people who lived 20 miles outside of town might only go to town once a month. It was a big event to travel to the city. Extended families also tended to stay close to home, rather than moving across the country.

Back then it made sense to stay closer, because transportation was hard work. People walked a lot, even from one town to another. You would have to plan your week around ten-mile trip to another town. Then horses and buggies made travel a little better, but it was still time spent in the elements, and a rough ride, too. Trains allowed people to travel great distances, but a train ride required considerable planning and it was not cheap.

With all the hurdles to transportation, people traveled less.

Today, transportation is really cushy, with A/C, cup holders, cruise control, power windows, radios and CD players. It is not a rugged experience, unless you are flying half-way across the world. But suddenly travel is becoming much more expensive. With the added cost, we are now seeing transportation a little bit more like our ancestors did.

But there are plenty of benefits of staying closer to home. We get to know our neighbors. We find fun things to do around the neighborhood. We share rides with friends. We spend time with our families. We spend time outdoors with cookouts and horseshoes. We spend time visiting with people. We might also spend more time with God.

I think that less travel may well be a blessing to our relationships. If we are intentional about it, and if we seek God in it, the changes can really make life much better for us. Sounds good to me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Day

I just read on the Channel 8 Web site that someone has declared June 20 as the happiest day of the year. Sounds good to me.

A psychologist in England has calculated that people feel most happy on this day, based on his interesting formula: O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.

O = time spent outdoors
N = time spent in nature
S = socializing with friends
Cpm = childhood positive memories
T = temperature
He = holiday expected

Now, I don’t think he intends to divide our childhood positive memories by the temperature, as the formula indicates, but he does make a good point. There are plenty of good things working together to encourage us.

It makes sense to notice these positive things and even enhance them. We can’t control the outside temperature, but we can dwell on our good memories. We can make time to spend with friends. We can make plans for fun things. We can spend more time outside, enjoying nature.

Just like we can add to our own happiness, we can intentionally add to our own joy. I wonder what your formula for joy would look like? I want to figure out my own formula, and then maximize all the right variables. It won’t make every day a cake walk, but it will keep my heart more in tune with Jesus, and he’s the One who gives me joy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jury Duty

Today (Monday) I reported for jury duty, something I have never done, but always wanted to do. In the past when I have received a summons in the mail, I have not gotten to report to the courthouse. Today, I reported at 9:30 to Courtroom A in Wentworth. As I have breaks, I’ll add to my musings on jury service.

There are about 50 people in the group summoned today. I was called to be part of the first batch of jurors to be questioned by the prosecution and defense attorneys. Both sides are looking for jurors who will be fair and impartial.

The prosecuting attorney asked us all questions about our experiences with law enforcement and the judicial system. She also asked personal questions to learn about our jobs, spouses and families. The defense attorney made sure that we understood the presumption of innocence, and he asked each potential juror how long he or she has lived in Rockingham County. He also asked us personal questions.

I did not get struck from the jury, and am excited to participate fully as a juror. I value very much the American system of justice. I have heard people talk about bright, reasonable people who get out of jury duty, with flimsy excuses. We often hear about juries returning foolish verdicts. If reasonable citizens refuse to sit on juries, then the justice system is bound to deteriorate.

After we were seated in the jury box, we heard the opening statements of both the prosecution and the defense. Then we took a break for lunch.

The prosecution presented its case, calling only one witness. I must say that the prosecutor was very thorough in her presentation of the evidence. The defense presented no evidence, but only cross examined the prosecution’s witness.

The attitude of everyone around the court has been surprisingly encouraging. They have helped everyone feel at ease and have helped us understand the process. They are focusing on us, the jury, making sure that all the evidence is presented clearly for us. I was expecting a more cold, clinical environment among the professionals. The judge, Ms. Eagle, speaks with a drawl and seems very approachable. She urged the jurors to speak up if we could not hear or understand the evidence presented.

Now the case is over, so I can write about it. It was a DWI case. The jurors were unanimous on the verdict with very little discussion. They tapped me to be the jury foreman, which was an exceedingly easy job with such an agreeable bunch. The 12 people were interested in justice and seemed very competent. I actually liked working with them.

This whole day has helped me appreciate our judicial system. I guess we only hear about juries when they return idiotic verdicts. We don’t hear about the thousands of cases tried across the country every day with good, impartial, interested juries.

The verdict? Guilty.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Powerful VBS!

Our Vacation Bible School is coming up, July 14-18, and our co-directors are already taking VBS to a new level. VBS is a signature event for Crossroads, and we have been blessed with great leadership for this ministry, year after year.

The Long House will be transformed into a Power Lab full of fun science experiments and truths about the love of Jesus. The workers will get to know the campers, sharing the adventure in their crews. As always, it will be hands-on, high energy, and wide-open!

This year, we have our own Crossroads VBS Web site, so be sure to check out the link on our homepage under Upcoming Events. You can watch a video about Power Lab, download the Power Lab theme song, volunteer to help and sign up your kids to be part of the fun!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Growing with Changes

After more than five years of meeting the Long House, on the outskirts of Stokesdale, Crossroads is now planning to find new meeting space. Our challenges cause us to grow. It has been very exciting to see the vision and enthusiasm God has placed in the hearts of the people of Crossroads. Rather than being discouraged, we are eagerly, actively looking for our next steps. He is helping us see with kingdom eyes, making us depend on him to do what only he can do.

We are praying that God will provide just the right location for us, where we can be more visible and touch more lives. We believe that God is changing the world, and that he can use us in the process. The months ahead will send us on a new pathway of service, so we are eagerly seeking his leadership.

He also reminds us that church is not a building, but people. We don’t have a church. We are the church. He is God, and he longs to reveal his extraordinary love and power. He is bringing his kingdom. I really want to be part of that!