On a Jetplane - Blog Silence

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I know I'm not one to update daily, but we are leaving for Florida in the morning and I won't be updating this week as far as I can tell.

That's also the 2nd reason for posting tonight.

I'm terrified of flying. It's an irrational fear. I know it's the absolutely safest way to travel. But that doesn't help me. So I have a couple of things to help me...we'll see how that goes.

So, I ask for your prayers. Our plane leaves at 11:40 and lands a bit after 2pm. Pray for us! Pray for me that I don't freak out. Pray that I can keep my sanity for those 2 hours. Pray that Carrie doesn't kill me before we land :-) Oh and pray for our safety as well!

See you all next week!

Prepare to have a faith crisis

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yesterday, while going through some of my random searching of the web, I came across this blog about a particular painting that sparked a controversy in the Portland area.

The controversy has now spilled over into 'blogland' and I submit it to you for your evaluation and personal reflection.

Global Warming: What if we're right...but wrong?

Monday, December 10, 2007

There is a huge debate going on about global warming. Whether or not it's happening...if it's our fault...etc...I was just thinking a few minutes ago (scary) about this and came up with a question:

What if we successfully curb global warming and it ends up being an even more disastrous decision?

Is anyone thinking of what the effects would be if we're "successful"?

What if global warming is purely something the globe is supposed to do and we mess that up?

Are you a geek?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

i am a total geek

Seymour's 'Holy Trinity'

If you have ever visited Seymour Indiana you've likely heard the three tidbits of information that natives just love to tell you:

1) Birthplace of John Mellencamp
2) 2nd Largest High school gymnasium in the state.
3) Site of the world's first train robbery.

As I was looking for some facts today, I came across the news that the worlds first train robbery actually did NOT occur in Seymour, but in North Bend Ohio just a year previous to the infamous Reno Brothers robbery in Seymour. What else is interesting, is that to the rest of the world, they believe that the first train robbery was by Jesse James almost 10 years later then the Renos.

So there you have it. Knock that off the list of things "Seymour is Famous For".

Supply Side Jesus

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This morning I woke up and had a friend send me a link to a comic from beliefnet.com. To be completely honest, I was put off when I saw the article was written by Al Franken, a political liberal. The only time I liked Franken was when he played that guy on SNL with the light blue sweater. But that aside, I found that as I read this comic, the more I found myself allying along side with what he was trying to get across.

Take a moment and read the comic here.

Regardless of Franken's political stance or religious belief, his satire proves an extremely valuable point. What do you think?

Question for readers

Friday, November 30, 2007

For discussion:

Is there ever a time when a church split is a "good thing"?

Imagine a world outside of the box

What would happen if we ventured outside of our safe places and thought outside of the box. What if we did things differently?

Geez..be more creative!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For the love of God (literally) be more creative! Can't we come up with something different than "Hey! This thing might be anti-God...BOYCOTT IT!!" Isn't there some sort of constructive method of entering into conversation about topics that might go against the flow of what we believe?

Take for instance the upcoming movie The Golden Compass. If you haven't heard, there is a large movement of Christians that are supporting a boycott of the film. Why? Because in the final installment of the series, the children 'kill God'. Seriously. Now, what should our action be?

Does getting on the trumpet calling for a boycott sound like a smart maneuver? Did it work when the Southern Baptist Convention boycotted Disney and their affiliates? Not at all. In fact, that boycott didn't do anything but make Christians look stupid and cost the jobs of people who desperately needed them. I was working there when they fired thousands of people to recoup that money.

I think about when Jesus called his children to be the light of the world. Are we really being a light when we get more up in arms over a series of books than when a 15 year old girl is imprisoned with 20 men and raped repeatedly over several weeks?

Let's be more creative in our approach to things we don't approve of. To the world, we look like a bunch of lunatics crying about a children's movie. I once again point out that there wasn't a break out of witchcraft in our elementary schools because of the Harry Potter series. If you don't support the movie, that's fine, don't see it. But making a huge fuss about it only further destroys our voice in this world because we look like a big child throwing a temper tantrum.

Perhaps instead of being so scared that children are going to flock to atheism, we enter into a conversation with our children after seeing the movie/reading the book and talk to them about it. Giving kids what I call a "crap filter" is absolutely imperative in this world that we live in. If they aren't able to distinguish between what is good and evil and what the hidden agenda is, they are in for a difficult life. We have to teach discernment.

But please, let's be more creative than the old fashioned boycott.

When Monty Python Meets Star Wars

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Exactly how this has escaped my wide adventures in internet travel I'll never know. But I bring to you one of the greatest remakes of all time:

The Golden Compass

Thursday, November 22, 2007

By some sheer miracle if you haven't received an email forward about the upcoming children's movie The Golden Compass...then...you're lucky. But chances are, you've heard it and know whats going on. But just in case, it's the movie that is coming out his Christmas season strangely similar to that of the Chronicles of Narnia. Except, at the end, the children kill god.

There is a strong movement in the Christian community to have this movie banned and they're making a large fuss about the whole thing. I think I've finally come to the conclusion that I'm not too worried about it. Why? Well..."we" threw a big fit about Harry Potter because "we" were afraid that kids would start practicing witchcraft...and that didn't happen.

Neither did a massive revival occur at the release of the Passion of the Christ.

We get all worked up over nothing. For further reading I defer to the always wise SWNID.

Please..no huggie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Christian Standard had some really good articles a couple weeks ago about how to be welcoming in your church. In an age where we are constantly trying to bring people to church, people jump from church to church to where they feel the most 'welcome'.

Now, I'm not going to get in a large discussion about how to make people feel welcome in your church. It's pretty straight forward: Go up to someone you've never seen and introduce yourself. That's pretty easy.

But one thing that is absolutely critical...and I mean ESSENTIAL that you absolutely DO NOT do: hug people as they come in the door.

Let me repeat that: DO NOT hug people!

It's weird and violating! I have a personal bubble! Respect it please! Let me give you a short story to illustrate this:

The year is 2006. We have our High schoolers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at a fairly large Baptist church. We bring our students to this church because it's Sunday and we need a place to worship before we head on our way towards New Orleans.

We have several young girls in our group ranging from 14 to 17 years old. As we approach the building I saw him. He was about 60 years old and heading straight towards us. No big deal, I'm familiar with larger churches and their greeter policies. But as he approaches our Senior Minister, he gives him this great big bear hug then proceeds to hug each and every one of us. His hugs linger a little too long for my liking on our young girls. I was a bit uncomfortable (I tend to be the overprotective father type when it comes to our girls).

So please, if you want someone to feel welcome, do it with a hand shake. Hugs are not necessary. Hugs are for relatives and good friends. Not for creepy old men and young teenage girls. Make someone feel welcome with a hand shake and remember their name!

Ex-Religion Journalist has a good point

Friday, November 16, 2007

This morning I came across this article on a religion journalist who was walking out on his faith. The reason? He was sick of all the scandalous things that went on within the faith community.

But that's not the reason I found this article interesting.

"Bates, who says he still regards himself as a Catholic, said he was turned off by the intolerance he saw towards gays and the self-righteousness of Christians who “pick and choose the sins that are acceptable and condemn those – always committed by other, lesser people – that are not.”"

Bates is certainly right! We do pick and choose sins. We will fight pain and nail to get things like abortion banned, but we do nothing with vagrant disregard of our environment. We need to branch out a little.

Kick his ask!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For your daily cuteness...

It's a sad day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I turned 26 years old today.

Birthdays just aren't as fun anymore.

Life just goes by way too fast.

Ministry To Men

Let's face it. The American church caters to women. Walk into any typical church today and you will notice some of the following things:

1) Decorative paintings
2) Floral arrangements
3) Love songs to Jesus
4) Flowery furniture and accessories
5) Quilts and banners and bows
6) And other miscellaneous things.

Now, don't misunderstand me, I don't believe these things are bad or that we need to trash all this stuff. What I am saying, is that we are inadvertently repelling men.

Compare the following lyrics of worship songs:

"A mighty fortress is our God! A bulwark never failing." - A Mighty Fortress is Our God

"I'm feeling like the eagle that rises. Flies above the earth and it's troubles." - Abba Father

The first song, written by Martin Luther focuses in on God and applies terms that a man can identify with: Fortress. Bulwark. Strong terms that men can identify with. The second song focuses in on feelings and emotions. Notice the very second word of the song is "feeling" and how that relates to things that are immediately surrounding the song writer. Again, nothing wrong with that, but from a man's perspective he just isn't comfortable singing love songs to Jesus.

That's my personal peeve, and thankfully our worship music at RCC fits the bill, but when I was in college we would always make fun of the brand spankin' new worship songs that would come in. We often made up our own lyrics such as "I want to buy you a rose Jesus".

Anyways, we're missing men in today's church. I used to have a ton of statistics on this matter, but you don't need stats to look around and see that only a few men are coming to church and getting involved.

This was further proven to me during this last church leadership election. Absolutely no man would stand up and be "Chairman of the board" and we only had 1 addition to our elders. But we had about 15 women want to be deaconesses (and power to them!) This isn't just a problem in our church, but nationwide. Men are no longer coming to the church and we need to find a way to get them here. Even better, go out and get them.

Promise Keepers is an excellent program designed to disciple men. More churches need to get involved in this great program. They have an excellent article on this subject that you can read here. They say it a lot better than I can.

How about the Football night bible study. Watch the game, bible study at halftime, finish the game. Complete with pizza and *gasp* beer.

If I didn't know Jesus that would get me to church!

Pick your holiday!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!
or for those of you who believe that Halloween is of the devil...

Happy Reformation Day!

Oops...there's a train coming!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Every morning I drive across the same set of rail road tracks. They're nothing special. Just typical railroad tracks on top of a mini hill and a set of lights and arms that stretch across just to stop traffic should a train be oncoming.

What I find interesting though, is that every time I go over these tracks, people either a) go over the tracks without paying attention or b) look for a train as they pass over the tracks.

The observation: People depend on the flashing lights and bells to tell them that the train is on it's way. What if a train was coming and the power was out? Or the lights simply weren't working? There are houses that line both sides of the track, so people wouldn't see the train until it was too late. They cross the track...SMASH!

We do this spiritually all the time. We get involved in something and think nothing of it. We say to ourselves that if something is wrong with this, God is going to send me flashing lights and bells to warn me. But we head straight on towards those tracks without looking for any danger. By the time we hit the track, we're so far gone we don't see the train coming and soon after that, there is a train wreck.

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he wil flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will life you up." - James 4:7-10

The more often we come to God grieving because of our own brokenness, the better off we are in seeing that train coming before it's too late. We can't always depend on those flashing lights to get our attention. We have to constantly be on guard to resist the enemy.

The Year of Living Biblically

Friday, October 26, 2007

I found a great article on Christianity Today's website. It's about an agnostic Jew who decided to read through the entire Bible and follow it word for word. Here is an excerpt:

Of course, some of the Bible's laws prove too strange even for Jacobs. The notion that one should break the neck of a cow near the scene of an unsolved murder (Deut. 21:4) is a bit too bizarre to be transforming the NYPD anytime soon. And, as Jacobs notes, some recommendations (e.g., "kill magicians") are downright illegal.

You can find the rest of the article here. You'll enjoy it!

Common Ground on Evolution

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lately I've been obsessed with social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com and StumbleUpon.com, in fact I often use popurls.com every couple of hours to keep up on what is 'hot' on the internet.

What I have found lately though, is that there is a common rising of popularity of atheist and evolution websites that keep popping up. Is it because there is a rising population of atheist and/or evolutionist? Or is it that these sites just happen to have a larger sample of those belief systems? I don't have the answer to that. But regardless, I have been keeping up with a lot of those sites, blogs and vlogs.

I think what bothers me the most is that neither side is able to come to any type of common ground on the issue of origin of life. The Creationist/Intelligent Design is not willing to step up and talk to Evolutionist and vice versa. What I've noticed is that a lot of the reason why, is because of preconceived generalizations about the other party.

Creationist/ID believe that evolutionists are morally depraved atheists, hell-bent on destroying the Christian faith.
Evolutionists believe that Creationist/ID are religious fanatics with no real intelligence.

Sadly, both sides have justification for believing some of those stereotypes. Speaking on behalf of intelligent Christians, I apologize for any of my brothers and sisters that may seem "stupid" or resolve to unintelligent debate such as circular reasoning. Unfortunately, we have earned many of our stereotypes and I think it's high time we started proving ourselves.

When it comes to the issue of origins, we have to have some kind of common ground on both sides in order for some sort of dialog to continue. I think it's going to have to be the Creationist/ID that will step up and make the effort.

How does that happen?

I think we have to start with one question: How did it all start?

When these 2 groups get together to "talk", both sides decide to spill their entire worldview onto the other, and that doesn't do any good. If we stick to one point, we can have dialog. Let me give a for instance:

Creationist/ID: Let's forget about the age of the earth, or evolution for a moment and think about life. How do you think life started?
Evolutionist: Honestly we don't know, but our best guess is that there was a pool of water and lightning struck it and 'life' was started.
Creationist/ID: I believe that instead of a bolt of lightning, there was an original mover, call it 'God', call it aliens, call it some advanced form of life before us.

We have to speak on terms with those that don't adhere to our set of beliefs. Sure, we believe in God and miracles and that God created us. But the instant we start down that path with someone who doesn't believe in any of that, we appear to be preaching to them and we lose them. Now if a relationship exists, then it's a different story. But that's another post. Speaking in terms that an evolutionist can identify with only helps our dialog. We have to remember that we're talking to someone that doesn't share our faith, and finds things like miracles simply unbelievable.

I honestly believe that the point of Intelligent Design can be a plausible one for the scientific community. I don't expect it to be any science text books, nor do I think it should be (after all you can't apply the scientific method to God), but in a general dialog both matters come down to "Neither of us were there and no one else was, so we have to do our best guess." We will have our lens of faith while the other has on the lens of science. But we have to seek a common ground.

A Haiku

Friday, October 19, 2007

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense

Ezekiel, prophet of weird stuff

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I finished my nearly 10 month study on the Gospels this week and started the Prophet of Ezekiel.

Weird stuff.

"...and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze..." - 1:4b-7

"Eat the food as you would a barley cake; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel." - 4:12

On a side note, when you make notes in your Bible, make sure they are legible. Apparently I had an insight into verse 5:1 and I have no idea what I wrote back in college. Oh well.

God has a word for the people of Israel and Judah through Ezekiel...and they aren't good words. Their sin is pretty obvious: Idolatry. According to God, "she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees." (5:6). That's pretty bad when the nation of God has become more sinful than those that aren't godly.

Now, I have to disagree with a lot of our evangelical friends who equate America to Israel. I just don't think that God was speaking to America when he was saying some of these things. I think God's main message was to his spiritual nation...not a nation of borders and national sovereignty.

In other words, God's word has MORE to say to believers than the United States of America. But that's a different topic.

The point is idolatry. Don't do it. Plain a simple. If it were only that simple. What is idolatry? Is it bowing down to a Buddha statue? Is it making a calf out of gold and proclaiming it as a miracle worker? Well, yes. Is it trying to solve all of our problems on our own? Yes. Is it setting relationships higher than our relationship with God? Yes.

God's Word is pretty specific as to what the consequences were to the Israelites for their idolatry.

"...cry out 'Alas!' because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. He that is far away will die of plague, and he that is near will fall by the sword, and he that survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I spend my wrath upon them. And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops..." 6:11-13a
Basically, God was going to wipe them out, there was no way around it. What does this have to do with us? We live in a culture of depraved idolatry, and we accept most of it on an everyday basis without even giving it a second thought. It's scary.

The almighty dollar.
Serial TV shows.
Books, DVDs, and other media
Video games

I see a couple of mine on their, and I'm sure there are a lot more that I'm missing or don't want to think about. Church, let's give God that place in our hearts that he deserves.

No longer Christian, but disciple

Monday, October 15, 2007

I have decided to no longer call myself a “Christian”. Before you panic, let me explain. We throw around this term ‘Christian’ all the time. We talk about a Christian nation. We talk about Christian leaders and Christian families. Unfortunately, the name which used to signify someone being a dedicated and committed believer in Jesus no longer means that at all.

ABC News recently ran a poll and discovered that 83% of Americans call themselves Christians. Wouldn’t this country be a much better place if that were certainly true! I believe that the term Christian has simply become a term that someone believes in God. And that’s about it. Maybe they go to church once or twice a year for a holiday. There is no difference in lifestyle or worldview. Author Bill McKibben discovered that 40% of “Christians” can identify onlyfour out of the 10 Commandments.

The word ‘disciple’ has more of a deeper meaning and identification with Christ. If you remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples…” Notice he didn’t use the word Christian, but the word disciple.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27.

The cost of being a disciple is steep. Being a disciple is more than going to church on Sunday. It’s more than participating in a committee. It is living out the faith every single moment of the day. From the time we wake up, to when we go to sleep. Faith is more than just calling ourselves “Christians”, it’s living it out every single day no matter how difficult it may be.

So I no longer identify myself as a Christian. That’s what 83% of Americans call themselves. I am a believer. A disciple of Christ.

Comcast will suck out your soul

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen if there was ever a company with the absolute worst customer service, that would be Comcast. Not only does their regular service beyond basic cable stink, but their internet services hardly ever work and their customer service, like I stated before...is the worst!

Let's rewind back to May.

I'm preparing to leave the parsonage for our new home in town. I want to make sure I have all my services disconnected, Comcast being my main concern.

I call them. They assure me that all I have to do is bring in my cable modem and all will be completed.

Oh if it was only that easy. The next month, I receive a bill for what was previously being paid on a monthly basis. I call to make sure everything is okay and they say "Well yes! That's normal! In fact, you'll get a refund for the month of June since you paid for that month." That's great I thought! All I had to do was wait for the paper work to go through the system.

Yet again, if it was only that easy.

The next month, the bill has doubled from not being paid the previous month. I call again, slightly annoyed. They tell me that everything is okay, I don't have to pay for it. They just need to send someone out to completely shut off the service to the house from the telephone poll. They tell me not to worry, it will be taken care of. At this point, I'm thinking "yeah...right."

So what do I receive in the mail yesterday? Another Comcast bill! This time for three times the amount! Needless to say I'm a bit mad. This is getting ridiculous. So I call...again. I explain to the nice woman on the phone that this has been going on for 4 months, and I just want them to stop sending me bills and return to me (but it really goes to the church) the refund it needs! She tells me to hold.


She comes back and explains that she talked with my district supervisor and that I need to come into the local office (not really local for me) and show proof that I haven't been living in that house. At this point, I lose my temper...which is very rare for me.

"Why do I need to show proof that I don't live there? I requested it to be shut off and it shouldn't matter whether or not I live there, I wanted it shut off."

"This is what you have to do."

"Why? I was told from the beginning that all I needed to do was bring in my cable modem and the service would be completed and shut off. Now you're telling me that I need to use up my lunch break and drive 45 minutes to turn in a slip of paper?"

"I know and understand sir, but there isn't anything I can do...blah blah blah..."

So today I have to go in and turn in my paper that states that I moved out of the house in June.

Apparently, you sell your soul to have Comcast. They will do whatever it takes to annoy you, enrage you, inconvenience you and otherwise make your life a living hell.

For anyone that reads this and has the opportunity, please reconsider using Comcast. In Seymour there is Cinergy Metronet which provides amazing service for both HDTV Cable (less than Comcast) and Fiber Optic High Speed Internet (Both faster and cheaper than Comcast). There are other internet and cable companies out there that actually want to take care of their customers.

Oh..I'm addicted

Monday, October 08, 2007

Last January I became addicted to a TV show. 24. I absolutely fell in love with it. I couldn't get enough of it. So I rented the first 3 seasons and bought seasons 4 and 5.

I happened to come across a friend who owned the first season of Lost. Guess what happened? Addiction! I did the whole season in 4 days. I loved it! The depth of character is great, the plot lines are addicting and intriguing. It's great!

Now I have a problem. Season 1 left me hanging...big time! So I am in need of Season 2! Please someone help me find it!


Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm getting beat up bad and things just keep coming on and everyday is just a constant struggle.

I hate to ask for prayer on a blog like this, but thats all I can think of to do.

Arrr! Today be International talk like a pirate day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yup! Every year on September 19th, it's International talk like a pirate day. Well...at least according to these guys.

Don' you love the internet?

Ever wonder how much ministers get paid?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If so, don't go here. Well...I'm sure the survey is accurate, but certainly doesn't represent any ministers I know.

The youth ministers they surveyed came up with an average over 3 times what I make. Crazy!

What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Craig from craigslist.com have in common?

The internet has crashed!

Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

It starts out a little slow, but about half way thru it gets good.

Give your money so we can bless ourselves!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Few things make me as nervous as huge church building projects and churches going 'in a new direction'. Too often I think, our voices of greed and selfishness are heard louder than the voice of God.

Our church is getting ready to embark upon a new building program. The church building has been in existence for 20+ years and in all honesty, we are busting at the seems. Which is a good thing. So, don't think that this post has anything to do with our building project because...well...I was on that committee and gave my $0.02 on what our needs are. Does it make me uncomfortable? Yes. But I honestly believe that if this is something that God does NOT want us to do, it won't happen. At least, thats what I keep asking God to do.

But back to my point. Being in such a culture where bigger and better means success, churches so often fall to this mindset that in order to be a successful church and fulling the mission of God, we have to build bigger and better things. If church attendance is going up, and people are joining the Church of God, that equals success! Not!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27

I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. - Mark 9:41

My prayer is that we don't give our money because of our selfish ambitions or vain conceits (Philippians) only so we can receive bigger and better things plus donuts. So, when are we going to give to the glory of God so that others may be well fed and taken care of?

The video is from TheChurchYouKnow.com and the site and videos are definitely worth checking out.

Funny Bumper Stickers

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I found these tonight while using my favorite social bookmarking system StumbleUpon. Here are a few that made me laugh:

Without geometry, life is pointless.
My gamer fragged your honor student.
National Spellling Bee Runer-Up
Dyslexics Untie!
In case of rapture, can I have your car?
Keep on working, millions on welfare depend on you!
Want a little taste of religion? Bite the minister.
To err is human, to moo bovine.
Carpe Diem = Seize the day. Carp In Denim = Fish in pants.
Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.

Anyways, have fun.

You have to be careful just trying to help!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The big news this morning is about a family who stopped to help a woman they thought was in distress. She wasn't. In fact, she was an undercover cop posing as a prostitute. What happened? The husband was arrested on grounds that he solicited a prostitute (while his wife was in the car, and daughter just inside the store). Click the link to read the full story.

Theres a couple of things that bother me about this story.

First of all is the act of entrapment. I can understand police officers hiding out and trying to catch a crime in process, such as burglary or even speeding. But to set people up to commit a crime to me, isn't moral. And we could go on for days asking the question "Is it really a crime for a man to solicit sex from someone who really isn't soliciting?" I don't know, our law experts can argue about that. I obviously dont agree with people wanting to visit a hooker, but aren't there far worse crimes that our police can be taking care of? Lets try to solve all the murders and break ins first.

The second thing that bothers me is that the city of Chicago won't make things right for this man and his family. They wrongly arrested him, impounded his car, and are demanding some $4700 for its return. Not to mention all the humiliation this family has had to endure thru all of this.

Sometimes I just sit back and wonder...When will the madness end?


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"But they that wait upon the LORD

shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles,

they shall run, and not be weary;

and they shall walk, and not faint" - Isaiah 40:31

Yes!! This is my dream!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lately I have considered going to the High School to start a "games club" and doing ministry within the High school through games such as chess, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and other games such as those (also deemed as "nerd" games, see previous post). We've had a huge outcry against our Karate Ministry at church...can you imagine what would happen if I started a Dungeons and Dragons ministry? lol

So I've considered doing it outside of the church in the High/Middle school.

Today I ran across a post on a website that describes EXACTLY what I want to do. Read this and be amazed!

Back long, long ago... When Geraldo was doing his level best to make a name for himself by trying to demonstrate the suicidal tendencies of D&D players and MMS (Mad Moms Syndrome) had taken root all through out our fair land, I had my most memorable reaction to my playing.

One of the women at church whose son my best friend and I had invited over to play D&D one Sunday found out about the invite. She went to the pastors and begged them to intervene before our souls were utterly destroyed. They promised to look into the matter. The pastors had all heard the stories, but thankfully, being Methodist, weren't going to take them at face value. That evening, Pastors Bill and Dan showed up at our house. They talked with my dad for a while, then called me downstairs. It was so odd, having these two ministers sitting there asking if they could borrow my D&D books for the week. My dad, who had never had a problem with the game, especially seeing as how my grades had shot up since I had taken it up as a hobby, told me to let them. I was afraid they'd be burned, but since I trusted them, I agreed. Turns out my buddy Mike agreed, too.

The next Friday evening, we got a call from Pastor Dan. He wanted to know if I could get my gaming buddies together and meet at his place for a game session. He would provide the refreshments, all I needed to do was bring some players. Again, I agreed and showed up with 4 or 5 guys in tow. Both pastors, the associate pastor, the assistant pastor, the youth pastor, and several church board members were there when we showed up. All I could think of was "This is an intervention". How wrong I was.

I turned out that the assembled group had been passing around our books all week, and found nothing "Satanic" or "suicidally provocative" about these books. Most of the readers had found the rules as clear as mud (1st Ed was written at an almost post-grad level), so they wanted a demonstration to better understand what they had tried reading about. That's why they wanted us game for them, so they could observe. We must have played for nearly 8 hours. It was more interesting than any of us expected.

All these highly educated people were astounded that a bunch of middle schoolers had developed such off-the-cuff math skills, advanced story-telling abilities, and used a college level vocabulary to discuss aspects of our game (Who knew that words like longevity, heirophant, and polymorph were supposed to be 6 years above our reading level?). A few of them even tried following along in the rule books or making up characters of their own. It was crazy, but they were so excited about the benefits that could be imparted that they seemed to forget all the negative hype that had been thrown around the media. By the time we left, it seemed that the church wasn't going to worry about D&D any longer. What actually resulted was much stranger than I could have guessed as I fell asleep that night.

During church the next day, Pastor Dan announced that due to the concerns of several members of the congregation, they had fully investigated D&D and had come to a conclusion. They not only said that it was perfectly safe ("Those who decry it the loudest are those that understand it the least"), but that starting in two weeks, a regular D&D game would be held at the church every Saturday night, chaperoned by the youth pastor and any other interested parties, and that the church was ordering a complete set of the books so as not to force those running the game to transport a small library every week. Most folks looked vaguely confused as to why the church would bother making such a big deal about a game. Many more were upset that the "Satan game" had fooled such good men. I'm pretty sure the rest were as amused by the outcome as my father was.

There has been a role-playing group in the church almost every weekend since. They supported a gaming convention in the community center once a year for a long time until it got too big and was forced to move to a larger venue. There have been D&D themed weddings, trips to rennaisance fairs, geek-themed movie nights, and other gamer-friendly phenomenon ever since. Here, 25 years later, it now has a huge fellowship of gamers and the current pastors sometimes even let D&D references slip during their sermons. Who could have guessed all this would stem from one kid asking another kid, with a wack-a-doo for a mom, if he wanted to play an elf?

All because the church decided to investigate something and find that, hey, it's not so bad after all! Amazing!

Yes, I am a nerd.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My wife continues to remind me, almost on a daily basis, that I'm a nerd. Let me list the number of ways in which I am:

  1. I love Star Wars.
  2. I love computers.
  3. I love video games.
  4. I miss the days where we the guys would devote 8 hours to playing a long Dungeons and Dragons session.
  5. I miss the days where we the guys would devote 8 hours to playing a long Star Wars the Role playing game session.
  6. Last Spring I sat down to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (Extended versions). Each one is 3+ hours long. I started about noon, and finished about 2am.
  7. I can remember times when we would sit down and watch the original Star Wars trilogy in order.
  8. I own a "Force FX" lightsaber. It's in my office.
  9. We've made lightsaber battles on video.
  10. I own a real sword.
  11. I keep a collection of star wars figures and dragons.
  12. I have a large bag of assorted dice. 20 sided. 8 sided. 100 sided. I have them all.
  13. I can pronounce cthulu.
I can list lots and lots of things. But here's the thing...I'm proud of being a nerd. I really didn't believe I was until I saw a picture on the internet of a bunch of men, gathered around a table with dice, notebooks, D&D books and Taco Bell with the caption describing how much of a nerd these men were. I said to myself...wow...that looks a LOT like what our nights were like.

So. It's official. I'm a nerd, and I'm ok with that.

Blind man sat on the road and cried...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

As I continue my studying on the Gospels, I am amazed at the accounts that I come across that I never seemed to take notice of before. This morning I read John 10, the account of the blind man that was healed.

John tells us that this man was born blind, and people had witnessed this man begging for years. The disciples asked Jesus "Who sinned? Him or his parents that he was born blind?" Because in that day, physical afflictions were believed to be caused by sin. They should of read more of Job. But Jesus' reply is "Neither did!" and went on to explain why he was born blind...but we'll get to that later.

Long story short, Jesus gave the man his sight and it caused a huge uproar with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. So much so, they decided to investigate the matter and to further accuse Jesus of being a sinner. The once-blind man was called in to testify, then his parents (who were afraid of the Jews and decided that it was best for their son to fend for himself), and then they brought the once-blind man in again. What he says is amazing:

"Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." (verses 30-33)

Now, lets back track for a minute.

Why was this man born blind? Jesus tells us in verse 3:

"...but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

Jesus then told me to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. John tells us the name Siloam means "sent". I don't think that was just an FYI note, but to tell us something: This man is now sent to tell about Jesus. And that's exactly what he does when he comes before the Pharisees--he testifies that Jesus is sent from God.

What can we glean from this? I think what I pick up the most, is that there are times when we feel inadequate. I feel like that everyday when I'm trying to figure out what in the world I'm going to plan.

Inadequacy...that's what we're supposed to feel. If we felt strong enough to do it on our own, why would we rely on God? When we're out on a limb, we are forced to say "God, you brought me to do this, please work through me and in me to do what you want me to do."

Thats why the man was born blind. He if he hadn't, he never would of had the opportunity to testify about Jesus. So yes, we all have weaknesses--but for a reason!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." - 2nd Corinthians 12:9

New study confirms it: Men like attractive women

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And we all slap our foreheads and say "Duh!"

Researchers, led by Peter M. Todd of Indiana University did a study to find out if men go for good looks when finding a 'mate'. You can read the rest of the story here.

What I find interesting about the whole thing, is that they spent time, effort and money on this research. Couldn't they just have saved all that time and money and asked a couple of men on the street? Line up 4 or 5 women and ask men which one they would like to date the most.

I can see the conversation between researchers and their grant providers:

"Did you find the cure for cancer yet?"
"We were busy!"
"Oh so you're still research how to cure cancer?"
"Oh we gave up on that...we wanted to know if men find women attractive."

New Home

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This will be my new posting home. I've gone back and forth from here to Xanga, but I just can't go back to Xanga any longer.

Feel free to comment and engage in any discussion on the topics discussed here. Also look at any of the items on the right side bar. I've posted some of my favorite blogs: Tony Myles and Mark Oestricher. Both of whom I read every day. They have some amazing things to say about ministry and God.

Make sure you subscribe to this page. If you don't know how to do that, go up to your "Bookmarks" menu and click "Subscribe to this Page" and follow the directions from there. If you have any problems, just ask!

Thanks for coming over with me!!

What Happened To Imagination?

Monday, April 23, 2007

A couple of months ago me and Carrie went with some good friends to go see "Night at the Museum". A comedy about a museum that comes to life at night and the night time security guard is responsible for keeping the place under control. He's not allowed to let anything out...or else they turn to dust when the sun hits them. I thought it was a wonderful family movie, one teeny tiny swear word in the entire thing and no sex. Great movie!

So I thought "Hey, this is a good movie to show at a lock in!" So I wandered over to my usual spot for Christian movie reviews to make sure it was completely clean. I'm usually pretty angry by the time I leave that site because of lack of imagination these people have in writing reviews.

What I want to know is why even bother watching a movie if you're going to intellectually dissect every single little scene and translate it into a 'blatant communication of worldview'?

For example, the following review on the above mentioned movie:

"Overall, it was a good show. It had a lot of references to evolution—the monkey and the Neanderthals. It also had a subtle Secular Humanism theme: The main character stands as the Giant voice of reason over the miniature warring cowboys and Romans. He explains that they both want what is best for their people and getting along is that very thing. The primitive nature of the combating Huns and other peoples are, likewise, brought under control. The implication throughout the movie is that man is capable and expected to rise above his primitive nature. Mankind, the Huns, are not bad people. They were just taught to act badly through a bad environment. Therefore, if you can change the environment you can change the behavior; you can negotiate with tyrants because love, not war, is the answer to our problems. Museum consistently refers to evolution and suggests that if we do not get it together we will become extinct like the Neanderthal who evaporated when he came in contact with sunlight."

My favorite part of that paragraph is the very last sentence. You have to dig extremely hard to come up with that kind of an observation, and in my opinion, it's an absurd observation.

It's a movie!

Heaven forbid people write a story that drives our imagination and makes us dream.

I see this 'condemnation of fiction' more and more on the rise of the Christian community. The whole Harry Potter scene was absolutely ridiculous when it came out. The Onion (a satirical website) posted a story about JK Rowling being a witch in real life and how she wanted to convert children to witchcraft.

Christians took the story literally, and began the attack. A satirical writing became the launching pad to quickly condemn her to an eternity of hell (even though she is a devout Anglican). More slanderous lies started to come out of the church about Harry Potter and his hellbound friends.

I sat in on an 'Christian anti harry potter' video one night at the church I was attending.

It was literally, filled with lies.

It stated that in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", the "killer, who had already killed 3 people, wrote messages on the wall in blood on Halloween night". Well, if you've read that book, you would know that that is the farthest from the truth. There was never anyone killed (until Goblet of Fire) and there was no writing anything in blood (it was red paint, I verified). And once again, the 'Rowling is a real life witch' came up again, as well as the books portraying REAL spells and incantations from the world of witchcraft. Again, lies and misinformation.

This was a Christian publication. Supposedly telling the truth on the Harry Potter situation. There was very little truth coming out of it. I was extremely disappointed in the Christian community for allowing this kind of junk infiltrate the church. Harry Potter is a work of fiction. There are elements in it taken out of legends and myths and greek mythology, but its all fiction.

The common argument? "But God's word says to stay away from all sorts of witchcraft...so we should have nothing to do with any kind of witchcraft and that includes Harry Potter."

I LOVED to ask the following question after that was raised: "What's your favorite Disney movie?" And of course the answers would vary. Snow White. Cinderella. The Little Mermaid. Alladin. It wasn't long before you quickly found out that these well meaning people didn't stop to think that all of these Disney movies included "magic" and "witchcraft". Especially when you add in Lord of the Rings. Double standards.

Harry Potter. Night at the Museum. They are works of fiction, written to first and foremost of course, to make money, but to entertain and to provide a type of escape that only stories can bring.

We are losing our imagination. The place where we dream is replaced by calendars and meetings and business proposals and clients.

Sit down and read an old favorite children's book. Thats what I do. It brings me back to those days that I pretended I could fly with a beach towel tied around my neck.

It costs how much??

Thursday, March 22, 2007

With the prospect of buying a new home, I wanted to do some research on ways to saving a couple of dollars on bills and such (aka be a cheap skate...but hey...we need the money!) Me and Carrie were discussing the difference of her moving in when we're married on the electric bill and how we can offset some of that.

Did you know that in electric it costs the following?

Aquarium 30 gallon $3.67 / month (We have a 55 gallon!!!! Ouch!)
Computer w/Monitor, Printer 77.6¢ / week
Hair Dryer (hand held) 9.9¢ / hour
Television (color, solid state) 22.9¢ / 10 hours (I used to sleep with the TV on till I read this. Emphasis on "used to")
Clothes Dryer 41¢ / load (going out and buying clothes pins this weekend!)
Refrigerator (frost-free, 21.5 cu. ft.) 2003 $3.76 / month
Heater (portable) 1500 watt 12.3¢ / hour
Heating System (blower) $7.32 / month
Air Conditioner (36,000 BTU, central) 10 SEER $58.61 / month

Makes you rethink your electric use

Here is the full list

Monday, March 19, 2007

Corniest Thing we ever did...
If you've ever been on the ET ride at Universal Studios, they take your name as you enter because at the end of the ride, ET says thank you and your name.

That being said, when we were seniors in High School, Ken, Justin and myself took Troy to Orlando for a weekend to celebrate Troy's 18th birthday. We decided that none of us had been to Universal STudios in a long time and we should go there and the Orland City Walk to celebrate.

We were pretty disappointed. Universal Studios just isn't as cool when you've aged a little.

So we get onto the ET ride and one of us, being the bright ones and thinking we're funny (I think it was Troy's idea) get the idea that each of us should pick a Gospel name for ET to say. I was Mark. Ken I think was Luke.

So we get to the end of the ride and ET says...."Thank you Matthew. Thank you Mark. Thank you Luke. Thank you John." and we're cracking up thinking this is the funniest thing ever. Looking back at it now I think...Wow...we were lame.

And I've just wasted 5 minutes of your life with that story. Enjoy

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lost Tomb of Jesus thoughts
So...unless you live under a rock you've heard I'm sure that last night they aired the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" on the Discovery Channel. The Christian blogging community has been going nuts over this thing. Some people condemning it as blasphemy (and rightly so) and others seeing it as an opportunity to talk about Jesus more in the open light (also plausible).

I watched the 2 hour docu-drama and the 1 hour critical look show after it. I must say that I LOVED the Ted Koppel debate that followed, but more on that later.

In case you didn't get to see the special, what this documentary asserted was: "In the feature documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus a case is made that the 2,000-year-old "Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries" belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth."

So Jesus, Mary mother of Jesus, James brother of Jesus, Matthew Brother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen wife of Jesus and Judah, son of Jesus.

The documentary was very well put together and very convincing if you didn't approach it from a skeptics point of view. Here is my take on a couple of points:

1) I have a problem with how it was handled. The filmmaker said several times that "I'm just trying to report on these findings and present it as a possibility" (paraphrased) when in all actuality, the conclusion seems to be drawn from the very beginning. In other words, 'we think that because these boxes have the names of several people that we know from the NT, these must be the family of Jesus, lets do some tests to prove that and only that' and not giving any degree of another possibility. That bothers me.

2) The assertion that Mary Magdalen was the "woman caught in adultery". Well, first of all, her being a major Biblical character during the end of Jesus' ministry would of made sure that she was named the first time. Why no name when she is first recorded? That would make no sense. Also, there are many scholars that believe that this section of scripture is not consistent and shouldn't be in the Gospel record. It is a spurious passage.

3) Shocking part. The fact that Jesus could of been married and had a son does not bother me. I've heard many people say "Blasphemy!" when it was brought up in the Da Vinci code. Why? What is the big deal? Honestly, I think the big deal is that centuries long message of "sex is evil" by the catholic church is still sending shock waves today, and the thought that Jesus could of had sex with his wife to father a child seems blasphemy to many. Do we honestly believe that sex between a man and a woman in marriage is holy or do we just give it lip service? If we honestly believe that Jesus was tempted in all the ways that we were tempted, wouldn't that include adultery?

Jesus being married doesn't challenge his divinity, but increases his humanity. In fact, if I believe correctly, you had to be married to be a respected teacher and teach in synagogues, but I'll have to get back on that one when I have a reference for it. It was the Jewish custom to be married, why would Jesus, growing up in a Jewish culture ignore that or be an exception?

4) The best piece of evidence against this documentary is the fact that there were martyrs. Tradition holds that the brothers of Jesus died for their faith in the resurrected Christ.

Would you die for your faith if you knew that Jesus hadn't really resurrected? Would you subject yourself to the pain and torture of a cross or stones if you knew that all you preached about was false? Of course not. Now, one would say "Well, we've seen many delusional followers of religion before." Well yes, that is true. But if your faith was grounded in the belief in a physical resurrection of your Savior, wouldn't that be shaken a bit if you were the brother or husband of Jesus and you had to bury his bones in a ceremony yourself?

That just doesn't hold water.

5) The assertion that the "disciple whom Jesus loved" was actually Judah, Jesus' son. Sorry. That doesn't stand up to the test of scripture. There are too numerous of passages that suggest otherwise, not to mention that it is consistent with the writing style of John himself.

All in all it was entertaining and interesting to watch, it was neat to see the Talbiot tomb and the Jewish practices of those day. But the assertions made just don't add up. Obviously I am NOT an expert, and what I have posted were just my thoughts. I am not an archeologist, epigrapher, or historian. But I am someone who can put common sense into practice. Later I will link here to someone who is a lot more "learnt" them I am in this area if you're interested in reading a more scholarly reading.

But my final thought is this: I am glad they included the "A Critical Look" by Ted Koppel afterwards. He had 5 intelligent and capable scholars/clergy that did not care for the docu-drama. First he had 2 archeologists that attacked the processes taken by the film maker, and the lack of 'hoop jumping' they did to come to their conclusions. The 2nd set to debate with the filmmaker and Professor Tabor were 3 Christian scholars. They were intelligent! I say this because several nights ago on CNN they had some Christian leaders on there to debate this and they had no idea what they were talking about.

In the end, this debate shed a lot more light on this subject and how it is being ridiculed by scholars, both believers and non-believers. The documentary came out, by the end of this debate, to look ridiculous and full of holes.

So, I think this is going to be one of those things that we don't even hear about in another month. What was the Da Vinci code again? See..my point exactly.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Over the past several months I've found myself reading tons and tons of different books on "church movements". If you look back on the past couple of decades you can see the "Seeker" movements and today you have the "Emergent" and others such as that.

At first I was really impressed with the emerging church, I thought that it might possibly be the future of the church, but now I'm not so sure. It was actually Don Miller that started my doubts, something he said in a "sermon" one time that seemed to indicate that he didn't think too much of the emerging church either. He said "The Emerging church isn't doing anything different then what the church has done the past 1500 years...they are just using culture to meet the culture..." and then compared how the middle ages church fashioned their churches to look like castles, and how the age of the corporation made their churches look and act like corporations. Miller was among my favorite authors at the time, so this made me think. He had a good point. It certainly wasn't a 'revolutionary' movement.

The church as a whole just seems to have this trend of having several different movements going on at one time, each of them claiming to be the best way to be relevant or the best way to 'know God'. Whether it's starting churches in night clubs, or inspiring a congregation to engage in lectio divina, I honestly believe that these things are just another chapter in American church movements and in 10 years, people won't remember them.

So I propose a new "movement". A new way to be relevant in a pagan world: Be authentic. Instead of trying to find new ways to reach people, or new schemes or the evil and dreaded 'sales pitch', being authentic brings us to a place where people can see a genuine change in a person. The desire to know and love God and the desire to know and love people.

It's not programs.
It's not hiring more staff.
It's not buildings.
It's not an ancient Benedictine tradition.
It's not anything new.
It's not "purpose driven".

It IS being authentic and not just going thru the motions. It's going outside of that comfort zone to actually help the physical needs of people. Going outside of our own personal "bubbles".

There is a world of hurting people out there, and we can't even muster enough LOVE for our Savior to get out of bed on Sunday morning. That is being inauthentic.

So I don't know, maybe someone can take this and get the ball rolling with it. I'm going to try to be authentic. It's not an easy task, but it is necessary if we want to reach and make disciples.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Here comes the wake up call!
"If we can see we're not in control, maybe we can hear the truth that Mother Teresa once articulated -- that in ministry we're 'not seeking to be successful but merely faithful.' The results of our labors are in God's hands. We can trust that our young people belong to God--that Godhas been seeking to love them since before tey were born and will continue to love them long after they leave the influence of our ministries.
I have observed too many churches and youth ministries whose methods expose a consistent distrust of God. These ministries embody a sense of urgency that communicates a God who is either a relentless taskmaster or completely incompetent. This is the "functional atheism" of which Parker Palmer writes. In youth ministry it appears as an endless parade of duded-up Christian rock stars, hyperactive activities, word heavy programs, and teen devotionals covered in exclamation marks!!!!! There is a tangible sense that God must be dressed up or hidden behind high-energy music and charismatic speakers. Our churches and ministries seem deathly afraid of any kind of downtime. All silence and stillness eradicated for fear that youth might find God disappointing, boring, or absent. It's as if our church and ministry leaders suspect God has left the building, and so they stall with jabbering words and meaningless activities in hopes the crowd won't become restless." - Mark Yaconelli

Thursday, February 01, 2007

For the past couple of months I have been studying the gospels. Discipled by Christ himself. I started my intense study after I read an article about how Jesus' teaching was all about tolerance and loving everyone. I've concluded that isn't what Jesus taught. Certainly Jesus taught us to love God and to love people, but I have yet to read about how we are to be tolerant of sinful lifestyles.

I think the evangelical faith has done some detriment to the character and teachings of Christ. Was Jesus loving? Of course! Was he a servant? Yes! Was he humble? Absolutely! Was he accepting of everyone that came to him? No!

He told the rich young ruler that he had to sell his stuff and give it to the poor in order to be his disciple.
He told the Pharisees that they were white washed tombs and that even though they were religious and did the right things, they were still wrong.
He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more.
He told his disciples that if they wanted to follow him, they would be persecuted.

We've been taught that Jesus takes us and holds us and cuddles us and tells us that we are never ever going to face problems and that the Christian life is full of happiness and peace and no trials. We see it on tv all the time. You come to Jesus, he will take care of all your problems. You know...I don't doubt that at all, but the way it is portrayed is that Jesus is like this happiness pill. You take him 10 minutes every day and your life will be perfect. That's not the case.

What is unfortunate is that people believe this...and when they aren't happy all the time, or their bank accounts aren't overflowing...they lose faith.

Jesus said we couldn't be his disciple if we took our hands off the plow and looked backwards...longing for what once was. That if we weren't willing to suffer and die or get up and leave our families, we aren't fit for the Kingdom.

Being a disciple should never be easy. It is a daily trial. It is a daily choice to be a disciple.

And yes...he will be with us every single step of the way encouraging us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lately I've heard a lot of the term "successful ministry".

Interesting term.

What does that mean?

Depends who you ask actually. Some would define it as 'you have so many bodies on average in a room at a particular time'. Others would say 'did they have fun?' or 'were they entertained'? We live in a time where success is measured by immediate results or physical aesthetics. In church, I have seen more often then not that success is measured in how large your group is...how many church buildings you have. It is often denied...but ministers...leaders...elders...teachers are filled with pride over their large buildings. The buildings become almost like objects of worship. The size of our congregations become the litmus test for success.

I'm pretty happy that we don't have roadblocks like big expensive buildings here at RCC. Big buildings are nice...and they certainly have their purpose, but I think they often get in the way. They put us into the mindset that we (collectively us as the local church) are more important and we need to take care of our WANTS first.

But buildings wasn't the purpose of this post.

It's about ministry.

Successful ministry...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

Physical needs are met. Spiritual needs are met. God is glorified.

Wordly success vs. Godly success

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words cannot express my shear frustration.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I have to share this.

I came across one of the greatest things I have ever seen.


Its a multicampus/internet church. The preaching that I listened to this morning is just incredible and they have TONS AND TONS of FREE resources for churches. Basically, whatever they do and produce and write is available for any church to use. Wow...imagine that! If you want 30 minutes of video for $99 you can go here (you're basically payign for Doug Fields' name), or you can go to a place that offers it free online with no fine print.

But this stuff at lifechurch is good and its free!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Things have been crazy lately. I just haven't had time to post anything or even play my World of Warcraft! This past weekend was "Work on the wedding" weekend. The tuxedos are picked out. Our invitation list is nearly complete. We finished our gift registry (Walmart, Kohls and Target...just look on their website and look up either one of us or our date July 14th). Basically all we have left to do thats crucial at this moment is find a photographer. All of the other 'main stuff' is done.

I got involved in "Enter His Courts". For those of you that don't know, EHC is an area basketball ministry. Now...I know nothing about basketball, so when Bill asked me to help coach his 2nd and 3rd graders team, I was a little reluctant but wanted to get involved somehow so I agreed. My first practice was a little sketchy. Bill asked me to help half the team work on defense. Thats like asking a dog to fly. But apparently I did something right because on our last game, our defense was amazing! I rock. Just kidding. But it's been fun thus far and we got some great kids.

Ministry has been interesting. I say interesting because lots of things are really good and there are a few frustrations. We're really at a critical moment in this congregation's life. We are at that size of a church where you either grow, or slowly die. I think our leaders have a great vision and a keen sense as to where God is calling, but this is so critical a time that if anything is done for "selfish ambition" or "vain conceit" it is going to fall flat and utterly fail. I am convinced that this is what happened to my home church. They made what I now call "medecisions". "Let us serve ourselves first." The church split into factions and the membership dropped 50+%.

Thats what happens when people take their eyes off of Christ. They start to slip into the water that they were previously walking on.

But like I said, overall I am confident that we are going to do everything we can to seek God's will and give him ALL the glory in all of it. But continue to pray for us. Pray for our leaders. Pray that we continue to seek His face in all of this. This decisions and plans are critical. We don't want to sit around and just become stagnant. We want and desire to bring people to Christ...not to just put on a show and hope people come and see it, but to actively GO OUT and seek the lost.

Wow...completely didn't expect to go off on that tangent!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It could be completely possible that I'm reading too much into the text. But in my trek thru the Gospels I came across a familiar passage:

"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." - Mark 8:31-33

Did you see it?

It's in that last verse:

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

The other synoptic Gospels omit this small section. Matthew gives greater detail to what Peter said and Luke omits the rebuking completely. Which I can understand, because the major point of the passage is the cost of being a disciple.

This struck me that for a moment, Jesus considered it. He thought to himself that maybe he didn't have to go to a cross and die. We know and remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethesmane asked the Father to take the cup from him if at all possible. But after looking at his disciples, he remembered the mission. He remembered that these were the people he loved, and they represented all of humanity. Twelve men, including a betrayer, at that moment became the symbol for all of humanity. Me. You. Your neighbor.

You get to a point in your Walk where you become increasingly aware of your wretchedness. The "vomit you return to". I needed this passage this morning, and I'm thankful that My Father gave it to me as an encouragement. That no matter how bad or sinful I am, he still loves me. And in that moment when he looked at his disciples, he remembered me.

He remembered the mission to save me.

And you.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Plastic Jesus

Church was good yesterday. When you work in the church...Sunday is often more of a workday then a day or worship and rest. Yesterday was different though and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The discussion from Sunday school got me thinking about how we market Jesus. I read a lot every day. Not so much books, but blogs. I like to read what other people in ministry are writing about and thinking about on a daily basis. I read a lot of Mark Oestricher from Youth Specialties. I read a couple of professor blogs from various Christian colleges. But I read one that is interesting. Church Marketing Sucks has me divided a lot of the time. Sometimes they say a lot of good stuff that I agree with and think "Wow! That's cutting edge and I think thats what the church needs!" and there are times when I'm like "What? You might as well call yourself Wal-mart Christian Church!"

Their most recent article didn't set well with me and of course I was compelled to comment.

The problem with church marketing today is too broad of a topic to cover in just one short post. But one thing that sticks out to me is that it makes Christians lazy. A statistic that I heard over and over again in Bible College: 90% of the work done at a church is done by 10% of the people. Why? I think a couple of reasons. 1) because they are used to having their ministers and other paid staff do it 2) lack of spiritual maturity and 3) the church "markets" stuff so people don't have to do it!

I'm all about trying to make our church more visitor accessible, but not to the point where we are abstaining from our personal responsibility as Christians to bring the Gospel to other people! When we "market Jesus", we are making things easier to the point that it encourages laziness and we don't even know it!

Let me give a fictional example. Let's say that Easyroad Christian Church says "We want to bring more people into the church" so their answer is "Let's have a Christmas Musical! We can have a big complicated program and bring the unchurched in that way!" So they do, and they have an altar call and 10 people come and accept the Lord! A couple of questions: How committed are those people that came to know Christ? They're in a mass of people they don't know. No relationships to keep them grounded, committed and accountable. How are those people going to be taught and discipled? Most of the time what happens is "Hey! You're a Christian! There's a party going on in heaven! See you on Sunday!" and thats it!

No individual had to come and form a relationship with that person. That baby Christian has no foundation.

We need personal responsibility in each Christian to fulfill Matthew 28. It is not the "church's" job to evangelize, but the individual Christian.

Did Jesus say "Go into all the earth, bringing people to church" ? No. He said "Go and make disciples".