Thursday, July 29, 2010

New AIMstock Deadline Approaching- August 4th

When AIMapalooza first started, the goal was to bring together those “few” AIM alumni that were at the Tulsa Workshop. We were shocked to have over 70 attend the first time and over 40 each year since. Every time I am part of AIMapalooza, I am struck with the immediate connection among those that are a part of it and am blown away by the singing. I sing all the time, but there is something about singing with those that have been part of AIM that is somehow distinct. I can’t explain it, but it is amazing. A consistent conversation that comes up at AIMapalooza is how great it would be if this could be for more than just a few hours and that is where AIMstock comes from. We know that many won’t be able to attend based on location and availability, but we hope that this first retreat will be a model for other retreats in other parts of the US.

For more details you can check out the info at AIMstock on its FB page. One thing that we do need is to get a solid count on who is coming and where they will be staying (tents, cabin or lodge). We need this info a month in advance, so we are now asking to receive registration forms from everyone by August 4th in order to lock in the facilities and space that is needed. We would love to receive payments at that time, but are flexible as to when those are received. The real issue is simply knowing how many to plan for.

If you have any questions whatsoever about the retreat, email me at or call me at (918) 838-1621. There are no dumb questions. One question I have heard pertains to non-alumni spouses. I do want to point out that most AIM alumni didn’t marry an AIM alumnus (I believe that is a true statement, though it may only be 51% true). We want non-alumni spouses to come. We are primarily connected by the blood of Christ, not AIM, so consider yourself doubly welcome!

I cannot wait to see everyone that is able to join us. I am super-thrilled just thinking about it!

Jason Thornton
"Let the Chains Fall Away"
March 23-26,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knock Knock! Who's There?



No joke. Somebody’s always knocking, ringing the doorbell, calling, texting, emailing... Someone wants something. When I wrestle with “Let Me In” vs “Leave Me Alone,” LMA usually initials the high score. I suspect that the era in which I let everyone in may have helped form my soul’s current enclave.

If you’re wondering how I can have over 500 facebook friends and still have isolation issues… There are too many anomalies to number in my life. I’m a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma who constantly reapplies lip gloss. I am an extravert and an introvert. I am conservative and liberal. I am naughty and nice. I am Elphaba and Glinda.

Everyone keeps others at arm’s length to some extent. It’s healthy to have boundaries. Letting people out may be more of an issue for some of you! Jesus knew the value of retreating from the world to be with the Father. But maybe a look at my tendency to set up camp there can help us all strike a better balance.

Isolation is no longer reserved for monks, hermits or those in solitary confinement. It’s often shrouded by busyness, even the constant activity of ministry. The size of your family, your congregation or your facebook friends list is no indication of whether or not your soul is isolated.

I’m filthy rich when it comes to having several deep and abiding spiritual friendships in my life. I’d elaborate, but it might lead you to envy! I’ll just say I’m blessed beyond. My battle is to become more engaged in relationships that are right in front of me instead of continuing to lean on my tried and true to the exclusion of others.

The price I’ve paid: Stagnation looms. My local community, my dating life and my spiritual benevolence are all lacking because of constant retreat into my small fortress.

In examining why, I come closer to the core. Let’s count the reasons we can justify…

Wounded in the past always ranks big. Then there’s fear. Fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated, rejected… Or fear of being revealed: I’m boring, I’m pathetic, I’m a disappointment, I’m inadequate, I’m not smart, I’m faking it, I’m a hoarder, I’m ashamed, I’m difficult, I’m selfish, My marriage is on life support, I’m not a good mother, I cannot handle life’s pressures, I’m too stunted, stuck, sad…. The bricks of legitimate woes mingled with the indistinguishable bricks of perceived woes build the impenetrable wall.

So we carefully construct how we present ourselves by what we show and what we withhold, fiercely guarding our inner insecurities. Shane Claiborne has remarked that we choose our own longings, addictions, emptiness… over community and grace and love. And we are left “ill with want” in the words of the Avett Brothers. We become skilled at escaping, avoiding, posing. And our sin lies in rejecting reality and daring to impose a world of our own making, leading to a deeper retreat into self.

Unfortunately, God hasn’t been exempt from my craziness. Our relationship mirrors my ways with people: some truly great ‘highs’, nervousness that things are about to get messy followed by cordial neglect.

The remedy lies in this primary relationship. I can’t live the one another passages without The One. It’s in the comfort of His love and grace that I’m more willing to allow others across my threshold. Life as the bride of Christ cannot function as a gated community.

In 1981 blind country music artist Terri Gibbs asked, “Somebody’s knockin’. Should I let ‘em in?”

Who is it? Could be a new BFF. Could be a self-serving individual who will abuse your trust and wound you. Could be Jesus. Or in Terri’s case, could be the devil wearing blue jeans. Don’t do it, Terri! It’s Christian gambling, and you have to risk big to win big.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” – Revelation 3:20 NLT

- Angie Burns

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You Might Be An AIM Alumni....

(in the style of Jeff Foxworthy's: You Might Be A Redneck)

You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?"

The U.S. feels like a foreign country.

Wal-Mart's cereal aisle has ever made you cry.

You have a time zone map next to your telephone.

You would rather eat seaweed than fast food.

You call cookies biscuits and biscuits scones.

Your life story uses the phrase "Then we went to..." five times.

You watch nature documentaries, and you think about how good that would be if it were fried.

You think in grams, meters, and liters.

You speak with authority on the quality of airline travel.

You don't know what year you graduated AIM, but you are certain what year you started it.

You go to the U.S., and get sick from a mosquito bite.

You've ever gotten peanut butter and Kool-Aid for Christmas.

National Geographic makes you homesick.

You have strong opinions about how to cook bugs.

People simply don't understand you.

You have friends from or in 29 different countries.

You do your devotions in another language.

You sort your friends by continent.

You keep dreaming of a green Christmas.

"Where are you from?" has more than one reasonable answer.

You are grateful for the speed and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service.

You realize that furlough is not a vacation.

You've spoken in dozens of churches, but aren't a minister.

You stockpile Dr Pepper.

You know what real coffee tastes like.

The majority of your friends don't speak English as a first language.

Someone brings up the name of a team, and you get the sport wrong.

You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.

You know there is no such thing as an international language.

You tell Americans that democracy isn't the only viable form of government.

You realize what a small world it is, after all.

You never take anything for granted.

You know how to pack, and have made an art form out of it.

All preaching sounds better under a corrugated tin roof.

You know raw fish tastes better than cooked.

Going to the post office is the highlight of your day.

When you sing songs to yourself in a language other than English.

When you get excited over finding Doritos at 7-11.

When after the church service you look for a slide projector to put away.

When wearing shoes in the house sounds disgusting.

You carry Bibles in two languages to church.

You watch an English language video and read the foreign language subtitles.

When you dream in a foreign language.

When you carry a dictionary everywhere you go.

When you forget how to count American money.

When adults want to pay you to teach them English.

When you would rather sleep on the floor than on the bed.

When you find a picture of yourself on someone's refrigerator and the words "pray for me."

When you know how to send a fax using an international call back service.

When you have carried the same dollar bill in your wallet for four years.

When you write in your diary in a foreign language.

When driving on the right side of the road gives you the willies.

When eating with chop sticks seems natural.

When you refuse to change hands when eating with a fork and knife.

When the message on your answering machine is in two languages.

When you move into a new house you take a gift to all your neighbors.

When cleaning up means sweeping the street in front of your house.

You consider parasites, dysentery, or tropical diseases to be appropriate dinner conversation.

You tell people what certain gestures mean in different parts of the world.

You have stopped in the middle of an argument to find the translation of a word you just used.

You calculate exchange rates by the price of Coke.

Thursday, July 1, 2010