Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mid-winter hike

We took advantage of some warmer weather and a free Saturday and took to the plateau for a hike. First step, fuel at Ingrid's German restaurant, where they have built a near life-size gingerbread house:

Next up is a hike through the woods to the spring at Roman Nose State park. We saw cactus, animal tracks and some leftover snow and ice.

Then onto the plateau for some scenic views & lots of wind:

Some more pics of the day. We ended up in Guthrie to eat dinner at the Stables Cafe. It was a great day!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Love Letters" Preaching Advent 4A



Love Letters
Advent 4A 12-22-13
This time of year the post office usually sees a big increase in how much mail they are handling. Folks are sending parcels of gifts to friends and families, care packages to soldiers and letters, cards and well-wishes to loved ones. The postmaster general estimated that this holiday season, Thanksgiving through new years, that the postal service would process over 500 million pieces of mail every day, every day!  
That would total over 15 billion pieces of mail for the season. That’s 2 credit card offers for every person on the planet! In reality it’s greeting cards and Christmas letters and family correspondence and letters to Santa and everything else that regularly goes through the mail. It’s a 12% increase from last year, the postmaster suspects, and they think they’ll deliver to over 150 million different addresses this year alone. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Redemptive Reversal" - Preaching Advent 3A



Below is my sermon from Dec. 15th, 2013. It was my first Sunday at First Christian Church, Kingfisher, OK as the Senior Minister. 
Redemptive Reversals
Advent 3A, Dec. 15, 2013
The third week of Advent is a focus on Joy. It’s sometimes called Gaudete Sunday – meaning “rejoice” and we light the rose colored candle to signify the shift in tone from the previous week’s readings, from underlying themes of somber penitence to full on rejoicing for the Lord’s coming. It’s a pretty easy theme to begin a ministry at a new church – Joy is such a great thing to preach about.
There is real joy in this season. We’ll sing “Joy to the World” in the coming days, and, if nothing else, the businesses and shops have done their part to help us be joyful spenders; they pump holiday music through their stores and offer discounts and sales to tempt our very last dollar. It is a joyful time; we’re in the giving spirit. There is real and profound awe and wonder on the faces of children at the sight of lighted trees and candles. The sights and smells of the season hearken us all to recall fond memories that won’t soon fade.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Resignation

On Sunday, Nov. 10th, 2013, I resigned my position as Minister to Youth at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Midwest City, OK. I have accepted a call to serve God and the Church as the Sr. Minister of FCC Kingfisher, OK. The following is the letter I shared with the Church Board. I intentionally redacted a few names.








Nov. 9, 2013


TO: The Congregation of First Christian Church of Midwest City
            AND: xxx, Board Chair
            AND: xxx, Elder Chair
            CC: xxx, Sr. Minister

RE: An Announcement of Resignation


Greetings Friends,

February 6th, 2005 was a Sunday. It was Super Bowl Sunday and Trisha (who was serving as part of the Youth Leadership team) hosted a Super Bowl watch party for the youth group at her parents’ house ([they] were living in Houston at the time). Trisha didn’t think her folks would mind the party. Gavin was there, so was Nick, Kacie, Cody, Josh, Beckie, Austen, Monica, Sarah, Sarah and Danny.

I was there too because it was the day that First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Midwest City trusted me with the care, nurture and faith development of the Chi Rho and CYF aged students of the church. When I was called to ministry here I had a High School diploma and 5 years of ministry experience. You trusted God, that God would somehow use this church camp junkie for some meaningful work with young people in your congregation.

Since that day and over the next almost 9 full years, you have continually trusted God, and seen me through an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree and Ordination into Christian Ministry. That is no small feat – yet one not unfamiliar to this congregation. Reverend Gary Mitchell took a very similar path, which also began with your trust in God. The meaningful work that began in early 2005 has matured somewhat, and gained a little wisdom and has grown in faith and understanding of what it means, and what it takes to be in ministry. It’s really the work you have done, and the grace of God that has sustained my ministry for this length of time.

It is with mixed emotions of excitement, sadness and trepidation that I announce my resignation as Youth Minister of First Christian Church of Midwest City. I have accepted a call to serve God and the Church as the Sr. Minister at First Christian Church in Kingfisher, OK. I am requesting that my final Sunday with you be Dec. 8th, 2013.

FCC Kingfisher and FCC MWC have several shared ties to clergy. Rev. Dr. Leslie C. Brown served in Kingfisher before moving to Norman and ultimately Midwest City. Rev. Julia Jordan Gillett served as Youth Minister of FCC Kingfisher twice, once while in seminary and once after – ultimately bringing her to FCC MWC. And the Rev. Don Gibson has served interim pastorates in both congregations.

This has been a several month process for me and was a decision I made in prayerful consideration and in conversation with my spouse and regional church staff. As a professional courtesy I informed Mike of my decision to enter Search and Call, and upon his request I informed the church Elders. I am thankful for their attention to the sensitivity of the matter.

It is important that we both maintain the responsibilities set forth in the Ministerial Code of Ethics. After Dec. 10th, 2013 I will no longer be the Youth Minister and therefore unable to serve in a ministerial or pastoral role with members of the church.

[My wife] and I will always be grateful for the countless ways that we have been shown love, encouragement and care. We could never return the amount of joy and love you have shown us and our family. I will forever delight in the memories of mission trips, summer camps and weekly gatherings - of spontaneous lunches and late night conversations about faith, life, parents, relationships and T.V. This has been a congregation deeply engaged with the work of raising up new and faithful generations of Disciples, for that I am keenly aware and grateful. Mostly I am thankful for your spirit of generosity and patience. Godly generosity. Faithful patience.

I’m reminded of one of the best “ordaining” stories from the Bible – Isaiah’s preparation as God’s prophet:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
(Isaiah 6:8)

            I am excited to be answering anew “Here am I. Send me!” as God – the ultimate Guide and Shepherd - calls us both into new chapters of ministry, as we continue seeking ways to…

Be Excellent To Each Other!


-          Rev. Andy Beck


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preaching: Luke 18:1-8

I had the opportunity to preach at my friends church recently. Here's video of the sermon. 

Or, if you're too busy to watch (or don't want to see the weird faces I make), you can also listen to the podcast version from New Hope Christian Church by clicking here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mid Fall Fam Update

Here's what we've been up to lately: 


See more after the jump...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Geography Lesson: DC

The online news magazine, Slate.com ran a piece today about the congressional showdown over the potential government shutdown. Headlining the piece was an image with a "sunset" over Washington D.C. The only problem is, it couldn't have been a photo of a sunset.




On the left of this map (west), is the Washington Monument, and to the right (east) is the Capitol building. If the photographer were facing west in order to capture the setting sun, then they would have to have been to the east of the capitol building in order to capture both it and the Washington Monument. That is clearly the dome of the US Capitol building, no other building in DC has a dome like that and is positioned in a way to be able to capture it, the monument and the setting sun in the same photo. 

But the image above suggests that the photographer is facing east, and positioned west of the monument. Basic understanding of perspective illustrates the position of the photographer as being west of the monument and facing east. Therefore, it's impossible for the photographer to be capturing an image of a sunset, unless along with the government, the GOP has also shutdown the laws of nature.

The content of the article is quite well done, however.

Overheard

"Giving to the church has remained at the same levels since 2009. But costs of operation have increased, so each dollar given is not going as far as it once did."

Not mentioned: salaries have remained stagnant for middle class families for 6 years. Earnings have not kept up with increases in costs or inflation. Essentially, families are bringing home less money now than they did before the recession. Yet, earnings for the upper class have grown faster than they ever have.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We got a Piano!

Because of some awesome people in our church, we now have a piano. I spent the day vacuuming and dusting, cleaning and polishing it. We rented a trailer and loaded it up under the cover of darkness.

Now it's all ready to go! Just need a tuning and 2 keys looked at.

Soon enough we'll be a 4 person jam band!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oklahoma? We're just OK...

Everyone wants to highlight their accomplishments. Oklahoma state leadership is no exception. The governor has been on a media blitz talking up the state economy and jobs numbers. We boast one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and a solid economic foundation due to oil and gas production and exploration. Low corporate income tax rates and other tax breaks and incentives for industries that relocate to OK sweeten the jobs numbers. These are all good signs in Oklahoma, especially if you're an owner of or a management-level employee of a corporation that happens to deal in stuff that comes out of the ground.

But for other Oklahomans, the outlook isn't so bright. The Tulsa World reports on a study done by the Violence Policy Center that ranks OK as 3rd in the nation on women being murdered by men. Numbers 2 and 1? Alaska and South Carolina, respectively.

More bad news for Oklahoma women, the state ranks 48th for women's health overall, with only 1 OB-GYN for every 18,713 women. To top it off, OK has the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate.

Ranked 48th in nursing home care...

Ranked among worst 5 in education for decades...

Ranked 38th in Congressional influence... (wait, that might be a good thing, we elected some weirdos)

So what all this leads to of course, is that we're really focused on private business people making more money off the backs of middle and lower-class workers; and that we don't care about the health problems of women, and that we don't care about educating our kids. After all, we're gonna need more oil drill operators and semi-truck drivers to do the heavy lifting for the out-of-state, Harvard educated, hydro-fracking engineers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oh, SNAP!

The following is a letter I wrote to U.S. Representative James Lankford concerning the bill in the House of Representatives that would de-fund SNAP, the food assistance program for those in poverty. 



Dear Representative Lankford,

I am writing to encourage you to reconsider voting for a reduction in SNAP funding. As one who has studied the New Testament scriptures in depth like I have, I know you are aware of the teachings of Jesus to feed the hungry and poor. I am also confident that the faith in God that has led you to public service has not retreated from you, but rather has remained an influential voice in matters of policy decision-making. 

(read more after the jump)

Monday, September 16, 2013

DC Navy Yard

As news broke today of the mass shooting in DC, the 6th of the year, I remembered this image I saw recently. It's a distinct reminder of a way to live life, even in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

I'm always deeply troubled when these kind if tragedies happen. It's the type of incident that rattles my comfort cage because it's so spontaneous. We cannot prepare for these events. We can only make good on our calling as Christians to seek God's justice, love with kindness and to walk in humility with God.

Pray for peace.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Taking Syria Seriously

As the war drums beat faster and louder, elected officials in Congress are taking sides and planning for debate on possible military action in Syria. And while I have confidence that the administration, military leaders and strategists, and intelligence officials have scoured through nearly every possible approach and potential outcome, I fear that some ideals are being given more influence than perhaps they should.

If military involvement in Syria is solely about maintaining the credibility of the United States as a global military power, then the focus of the attacks are equal to that of a schoolyard bully. We'd be picking on an easy target in order to flex our muscles to show other would-be bullies who is boss. Is this the mission and goal of US diplomacy these days?

If military involvement in Syria is solely about punishing the regime for alleged use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, then any civilian casualties (a certainty, in any situation) as a result of the punitive attacks cannot be justified under any circumstance. We cannot morally punish a dictator for killing Syrian civilians while incidentally killing more Syrian civilians ourselves by errant rockets and bombs.

If military involvement in Syria is solely about sending a message to other 'hot bed" nations in possession of chemical weapons, then we have already committed resources to future US military involvement. Any time a dictator, despot or military regime acts out of fear, the US will be looked upon to act in response.

I mention these scenarios because they seem to be the leading reasons given for justifying military strikes. But as I've demonstrated, they're also easiest to poke holes in.

Perhaps Congress will come up with better, more reasonable and thoughtful justifications for bombing Syria. I'm not holding my breath.

House Cleaning & Typos


I do a lot of my blogging from my iPhone. It's handy. Many of the pictures and images I post are stored on it. I can edit photos on the phone without having to transfer them to my computer. One drawback to writing and posting from the phone is my propensity to not proof-read. So I end up typing things like "Kawkeye Pierce" instead of "Hawkeye Pierce". Or, "middle attacks" instead of "missile attacks". I could blame it on the auto-correct function on the phone, but that'd be too easy. I need to take responsibility for my typos - and when I find them - correct them.

So I've gone through and made a few quick edits. Thanks for not noticing / caring about the typos.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Carry on


I'm not interested in hari-kari (or Hairy Kerry, for that matter) or asking anyone else to do it either. But, yeah this is reason #17 that Hawkeye Pierce is awesome.

Rush time in a college town

You know it's rush week at UCO when things like this start appearing:

That's a giant foam & bubbles explosion coming forth from the landscaped water feature in front of the hospital.

Crazy frat kids doing crazy frat pranks!!

*secretly wish I'd thought of it first*

I wonder how many bottles of Dawn they dumped in there? That's pretty impressive.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hipster Hippy

Saw this today & had to share. Given that the U.S. is perhaps days, maybe hours away from launching non-U.N. sanctioned cruise missile attacks on military targets inside Syria, I found this picture very poignant.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Trees in Volcanoes




People like to do this everywhere, but it's pretty common here in the good ol' 405. Someone plants a tree, then plants it again under a bunch of wood chips (mulch), or in this case, sand and wood chips.


I believe the intent is to retain water during the hot and dry summer months we experience. That's nice and all, but all that wood debris piled up against the trunk of the tree is not healthy at all. It's prime-time for disease and insect infestation for the young tree. So if you're gonna plant a new tree and pile on the wood chips, keep 'em a good 6 inches away from the base of the trunk. Make a donut if you must.


This has been a PSA based on a conversation I had with my grandfather a while back.

Friday, August 23, 2013

ManDate: 2013

This summer, we began what I hope is an annual gathering of some of the men of my family. We did what many manly men would do, we wanted to be like Lewis & Clark:



We looked at hops growing, and dreamed of the goodness they will bring forth:


We went to a baseball game in arguably the greatest baseball town in Missouri:


In all, ManDate: 2013 was a huge success. Thanks dad.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Watch the Ordination

So here you'll be able to watch my Ordination into Christian Ministry, live on Sunday, May 19th at 4:00 pm CST. Cool huh!



Live Video streaming by Ustream

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just like brother

She's just gotta be like big bro:

His shoes, his shin guards...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hatin' on the Arts: Part 2

[Note: unless something ridiculous happens, this will probably be my final post about this issue. there's nothing artistic about beating a dead horse.]

In the last few days, I've enjoyed some congenial discourse with OK State Representative Josh Cockroft. He's the 23 year old lawmaker that will formally introduce poorly written legislation that would cut state funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council. Read up on it. 

Anyway, Rep. Cockroft has replied to a couple of my tweets sent his way, as well as an email I sent to his office. In actuality, this is wonderful because I was fully expecting to be completely ignored - as I have been to this point by my own state representative Marian Cooksey.

In both a Twitter response and a blog post from his office, the Representative ensures that he loves the arts, and that the bill (HB1895) isn't going anywhere this session. I am grateful for that.

This all began, according to Cockroft, as a way to begin the difficult conversation about reducing state expenses in balance to reduced state revenues. Oklahoma businesses enjoy some of the lowest corporate taxes in the nation, and the state legislature is once again attempting to draw down the state income tax rate during their 2013 session. The current income tax rate is 5.25%, with a reduction going down to 5%.

All this decrease in taxes has lead to shortfalls for some important areas of state financial responsibilities. Like state employee retirement funds. My spouse is a teacher. Shes proven herself to be one of the best teachers at each of the 3 schools she's worked at in nearly 10 years. So I feel comfortable in allowing the citizens of this great state to pony up for her retirement. After putting up with your snot-nosed kids, she'll deserve it.

So what did a political ideology influence first? The desire to cut the arts, or the desire to reduce taxes in such a way that state revenues dried up requiring the "difficult conversations" about state spending. I still see HB1895 as an attack on the arts, albeit perhaps as a result of a far larger and mischievous political agenda.

It's like state GOP & Tea Party folk are saying, "Oh, we'll kill your beloved little "arts & social services" programs. If not directly, then by dragging the whole state down with us."

The 2013 OK State Legislative session begins Monday, February 3rd. It's likely to be a wild ride!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hatin' on the Arts

So there's this bill in the OK legislature to be formally introduced on Feb. 4th that would cut all funding to a state agency - the Oklahoma Arts Council. I've written a little about it here and here, if you're interested. But basically it's a political maneuver by a 23-year old "spending cuts at all costs" freshman lawmaker from Tecumseh. There are several problems with this measure. If passed, it would remove oversight of works of art in the state capitol. And as the LA Times has reported:
"As a state government agency, however, the Oklahoma Arts Council notes that in fact it cannot raise its own funding. Nor does Crockroft's letter say how, exactly, $4 million in existing private donations likely to be diverted away from arts programs across the state to fund the agency might be made up. Finally, the state would also lose its $750,000 federal grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, further widening the funding gap."
I think the paragraph above needs to be plastered on as many billboards across the state as possible. The Times goes on to report that the bill was generated by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a right-leaning ideas group funded in part by the Koch brothers. On their website, there's a section called "What Would Reagan Do?" Well, Reagan worked toward a dismantling of the National Endowment for the Arts! the OCPA knows it, they pushed it on newbie Cockroft, he wants to appeal to tea-party inclined voters and keep his legislative seat. Kid is 23, remember.

One more piece of the puzzle that shows that not only are Oklahoma's citizens blindly going with the flow, so are its legislators.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is post # 200

Here's a letter I sent to a few OK state representatives about this whole Arts Council funding business:



I am writing you to express my sincerest desire that you withdraw HB 1895, which aims to reduce funding for the arts 100% by 2017. The legislation implies that a fiscal emergency exists, and that action to reduce funding to the arts is "immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety".

I am certain that the arts are essential to public safety, peace and community health. The US Department of Justice in a January 2000 bulletin detailed in length the benefits of music, arts and drama in reducing crime among teens.


If you are interested in reducing state expenditures, perhaps an examination of education dollars vs. incarceration dollars would be applicable. One report shows that 1 year of attending Princeton University is actually cheaper than 1 year of imprisonment.


This model holds true across the board, with per pupil costs much lower (as much as 3 times cheaper) than per prisoner costs. Perhaps a rollback of state appropriations to the prison industry would be a better solution to your supposed "emergency".

Funding the arts reduces crime and incarceration rates. Education is cheaper than imprisonment, better for our society, and provides a stronger and safer future for us all. Please stand up for the arts, in our schools, our cities and our society.

Regards,

Andy Beck


I have little faith that legislators pay much if any attention to their constituents. But hey, if I can irritate my legislator enough for even a response, I'll consider it a win.



** Rep. Josh Cockroth isn't my OK State Representative.

OK Legislator wants Arts Funding Removed

OK House Representative Josh Cockroth has introduced legislation that would reduce state funding of the arts 100% by 2017. The move would save the state a total of $4 million a year over the next 4 years. A gradual reduction of 25% a year. 

More after the jump...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

There's something off about this picture

Saw this image going around Facebook lately. It caused me to think.

If its not the blatant racism (the criminal is African American? REALLY? The "Law Abiding Citizen" is a country white man?) it's that nowhere in the Obama Admin proposals is there a ban on handguns and shotguns.

So this is wrong.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kids update

Instead of being that annoying guy who obsessively posts pics of his kids, i'm just going to be that annoying guy who never posts anything, then dumps a video of pictures of his kids. Boom.

Thursday, January 10, 2013