Monday, December 21, 2009
It was a surprise to my grandmother. Earlier in September, he was told he was being released, but they cancelled that. So when he was told the same thing in December, he didn't want to get her hopes up and didn't tell her.
Imagine her shock when she opens the door to see her husband home from the war. Imagine their elation to be husband and wife, together, on Christmas. I can't imagine what it would be like to be torn apart for so long. It had to be the best Christmas present ever.
So now, when I hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas," I can't help but think of Grandpa and Grandma Need. What an amazing story...especially in light of the fact that so many wives and families around the world celebrated Christmas with tears and heartbreak.
And now it has a different meaning, too. For now they are home with their Maker this Christmas, and we miss them. Cheers to you Grandma and Grandpa! Your dreams came true, and you celebrated your Christmases together...and you still do.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
A minaret is a small tower built next to a mosque that was traditionally climbed by a person to begin the call to prayer...in a day before loud speakers, this was the best way for the call to prayer to be heard. Now minarets are a traditional architecture piece to symbolize the importance of prayer (and to hold a speaker).
The Swiss have confronted the issue in an honest, up-front way (as opposed to Brittain or the EU): They have been clear that they are against the practice of Islam that would establish its culture in Switzerland. The banners used to promote the ban, paint a picture of all Muslims being radical fundamentalists against freedom and women's rights.
Perhaps instead the Swiss are sending a message that they
are tired of the in-your-face practices of the Muslim community, such as the
burqas and the threats. Perhaps this backlash arose because of Muslim
pronouncements that Muslims are Muslims first and citizens of their host culture
A government/civic fear that adherents of faith are loyal to something other than state or nation first is driving force. I can't help but think how this relates to laws being made against crucifixes in public buildings in other European nations. I am concerned at the rising amount of religious intolerance taking place in the world today. Be it against Jews, Christians, or Muslims, the repression of religious belief is a growing trend. Sarkozy's (president of France) comments were frightfully full of warning to all people of religion.
"Christian, Jew or Muslim... each one must guard against all ostentation and all
provocation and, aware of the good fortune to be able to live in a free land,
practice his religion with humble discretion."
In other words, "Be happy we even let you live here...Mind your place, do as we say, and stay silent." It is an eerily familiar echo of another movement out of central Europe that was quite convincing in the 1930's.
Personally, I am horrified on behalf of our fellow children of Abraham. This is wrong. Keeping Sharia out of government is one thing. Telling religious adherents that their tasteful symbols of prayer on private property are not allowed is something else.
What is next? How does this or a future action by your government affect your beliefs? Do you think the governments are right in banning religious affections and symbols?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
As you probably have read here that I coached Isaiah's Pee-Wee soccer team. Now, I'm a "coach" for the Pee-Wee basketball group as well.
I really like how it is broken down. We are not playing games; rather, we are doing exactly what the kids need to be learning right now...the fundamentals.
There are 4 stations: Passing, Dribbling, Shooting, and Defense. Each station has its own coach, and the kids rotate in and out of the stations. When offered, I immediately took defense, the most underrated skill of a basketball player. I had a blast last Saturday, and I hope we all continue to enjoy it again.
Isaiah continues to say that he's glad I'm coaching his "teams", so as long as he enjoys it and I enjoy it, I'll keep at it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
- If the UMC really means this...wow! It sounds great. Now to implement it.
- Kem Meyer has a good video for those skeptical of the social network media on internet. But then again, I doubt you are if you're reading this :)
- People always scoff when I say that we MUST be working on the ethical considerations of AI. Will we enslave? Will we treat non-biologicals as equals? Partners? Will we marry them???? Oh, wait, someone's already doing that...yes, really!
- Oh, please, God let this be the end...Unfortunately, Oprah might be just springboarding to something else.
- The UMC is now actively engaging in a vigorous, 'grass-roots' marketing campaign. What do you think? Good idea to reach people in relevant ways? Or, missing the mark of what it means to share faith?
- This blog by Kathy Escobar is truly an amazing blessing to me. Her passion for the Church being an authentic community of faith gives me hope when ministry isn't feeling great.
- Seth Godin has a great post on "How to lose an online argument." Most of it applies to any discussion, yet...somehow we miss that!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I am in particular enjoying the book's fresh impact on my understanding of the Christian and government. It's been very challenging, scary, and confusing all at the same time.
I am not enjoying how confusing it is putting together a preterite understanding of Revelation with the idea of a Day of the LORD event. If anyone knows good books on this, let me know!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I have morning sickness, and we're all glad it's me...because if it'd been Steph, well, Dr. Cly would've owed us a free birth :)
I hate being sick, but there are some benefits today. I'm really tired after a stressful month. It was wonderful to do nothing this morning....except....
Yesterday was my birthday, and my wonderful wife got me a fun present to fidget with so that I wasn't bored to death.
Rest. Play. Puke. What a day!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We love them, and we play with them constantly.
Aside from trying to figure out how Google interacts with BlackBerry vis-a-vis Google Sync, I'm really enjoying it.
Yeah, for serendipitous blessings!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
In my own perceptions, I have seen many, many more negative comments and actions against Hispanics than I have witnessed against Blacks. That's not a statistic as much as it is just a witness to the prevalence of racism against the Hispanic community.
In a special worship service led by a sister Hispanic church, I've watched white "Christians" folding their arms and saying, "This is ridiculous. Why are THEY leading worship here. They can't even speak our language!" Never mind that the mission money they sent went to help support this Hispanic church. Btw, the worship was awesome...and I have to admit that I told off the old lady who said the comment.
I've heard an unbelievable number of Hispanic "jokes." Seriously, why are these "acceptable" when our culture refuses the Black equivalent?
I hear all the time about the "Mexicans commiting crimes" near where I grew up. Right, and white people in Frankfort are model citizens.
Has the American people forgotten that we were all immigrants? Even the Native Americans are not native to this land. Since the continent split off millions of years ago, it has always been an open land, a free land, a place of new starts, and a hope for a new and better life. For ancient Europeans (it is thought they first discovered North America), for Native Americans, for European immigrants, and now for Hispanics, Indians, Africans, and everyone else. Apparently, we've learned little from our earlier fights...You know the ones where German-Americans were singled out for being Krauts. Or Irish immigrants fighting Italian immigrants. Or the established English looking down on everyone else.
Perhaps, we should look back into our history to find what makes us great...the infamous Melting Pot. Where we give and take culture. Where we borrow and share the best from each other. Where we learn to help out the foreigner in our land, because we too were a foreigner in a strange land.
Funny...I've heard that before: Exodus 22:21 says, "You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt." A little bit later it also says, (23:9) "You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it's like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt."
Why do we never learn. Perhaps it's time for Americans to embrace each other. If you want to stop Illegal Immigration, don't attack the people coming in...Go after the US and Mexican governments that encourage the illegal trade of human labor. Go after the corporations that are illegally and unethically using cheap/slave labor.
But for the love of your own soul, treat our Hispanic brothers and sisters well.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
OK, I haven't done speedlinking in a while, but here we go...
- A look at "Spiritually Transmitted Diseases."
- Where the Wild Things Are can teach us about life & faith (thanks Kara).
- Something is wrong when 1 in 7 Latinas (young hispanic ladies) attempts suicide. What can we do to help prevent this?
- A new movie "Lord, Save Us from Your Followers" is coming out. It looks spectacular! I can't wait.
- I've long been an advocate against most copyright restrictions. From downloading music lawsuits to assinine footnoting, people have moved from a culture of attribution to lawsuits (when will we outlaw lawyers?). Here is a good article explaining why FREE is good!
- A funny one about pastors using news itmes for sermon fodder from Stuff Christians Like!
- An interesting book and review about Emerging Young Adults.
I also enjoyed coaching and hope to do it again next year!
Monday, October 12, 2009
On the other hand, here is a spoof having some fun with the idea...gone bad!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Isaiah is playing soccer and loving it! His first game, he was a bit shy, and he had trouble grasping that the ball wasn't meant to be touched with the hands. He wasn't very aggressive and wanted to stop early.
But by his second game, he was in there kicking, pushing, laughing, and screaming...all vital parts of the childhood soccer experience. I've been proud of the fact that each game he does a little bit better than the previous. Being his first organized sports experience, it's been a very interesting, entertaining, a pleasing life hurdle to watch as a parent .
As a coach, I've enjoyed being there for him and his team. I understand how parents get so wrapped up in the sports experience of their kids, but at the same time, I'm amazed at how serious some people are taking pee-wee soccer. Seriously, do we need to yell at kids for allowing a goal? And that's a grandparent! My #1 goal in this soccer experience has been to be a positive, encouraging male role model for the kids as they are first entering the world of organized sports.
Who knew it would be this fun? I love it that Isaiah is glad that I'm his coach. I love to be out there helping kids experience a big milestone in their lives.
This goes to show...Billy was right all along!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Moreover, what, if anything, can we do to help people connect in the life of faith and worship?
Most of all: What can we do in our local churches to bring a spirit of worship that helps people experience the tranforming grace of God?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I was born...I was born to be with you.
In this space and time,
After that and ever after,
I haven't had a clue
Only to break rhyme.
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue.
Only love, only love can leave such a mark.
But only love, only love can heal such a scar.
I was born...I was born to sing for you.
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up...
And sing whatever song you wanted me to.
I give you back my voice.
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…
Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar.
Justified till we die, you and I will magnify...
Only love, only love can leave such a mark.
But only love, only love unites our hearts.
Justified till we die, you and I will magnify...
Monday, September 21, 2009
Today, I sat working in my office listening to several different U2 songs, and I've had more worshipful afternoon than I've had in a long time. As I posted on FB, it was a God moment.
Poetry and music do so much more than mere words. Hearing someone sing encouragement to their daughter (Original of the Species), praise to God (Magnificent), or apology to their wife (Sweetest Thing), is somehow more real than a lot of the daily life we surround ourselves with...We put so much mundane around us to keep life predictable, safe, and comfortable.
Listening today, I felt alive and emotive...more so than I've felt in a while.
It's led me to other thoughts that I'll share later, but today I listened and heard life...and I praised God...Magnificent.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
But, it got me thinking, I've read Dune at least 18 times, so how many times have I read the Bible, cover-to-cover? My first time through was in college. Did it in a month. I did it once in seminary, too. Since then, I've done it 3 times, and each time it's taken me 34 weeks...
Why 34 weeks? Disciple Bible study! It's a great Bible Study program, and if you've never done it, well you really need to! The approach is very good. It comes with a book that outlines the readings. There are 5 days of reading, 1 day of answering questions in the booklet, and a day of rest. Then once a week you meet with your Disciple class where you watch a video done by professors who study each part of the Bible you're reading that week. After watching the video, the class discusses the readings, shares their thoughts, and answers some questions.
In a nutshell, here's why Disciple I is AWESOME!:
- You have accountability friends to help you read all through the Bible...even the slow, hard parts where Hallugoaboah begat Yaojodeeoho who begat Bill...yeah, those parts, too!
- You get great insight from the video, the booklet info, and the class discussions.
- The aim of the study is to help us apply Scripture to our lives...not just study it.
All, in all, I highly recommend it, and if you're in Winchester on Thursdays, we start at 7 p.m.
Monday, August 31, 2009
My confession is that it's not the Bible. It's Dune by Frank Herbert. From the first time I read it, Dune has captivated my imagination. A science fiction book that is quite heady, the storyline weaves issues of politics, psychology, ecology, and religion together to form an exciting messianic story.
In the Appendices (yes, I read them each time as well), there is a quotation that struck me last night as I finished up 2009's reading: "Every man is a little war."
From the Islamic concept of the inner struggle or jihad, Herbert's Fremen religion speaks of how each person must continually fight all of the forces within themselves. From our biological impulses to our learned vices to our beliefs and who we choose to be, each of us has a plethora of voices crying out to have us and control us. To be truly human is to win that war, or perhaps to even engage in the struggle.
Jihad has rightly earned a "bad" name as of late; however, when I was in a Philosophy of Religion class at Purdue, I remember learning how Jihad was primarily understood as this inner struggle. I loved the concept as it really resonated with my Christian faith, too. Romans 7:14-25 speaks of this struggle, of our own personal war. 1 Timothy 4:6-10 also speaks of how we need to continually refine our spiritual selves like an athlete or soldier as we face our own struggles.
Understanding that each of us is in our own turmoil, I believe helps us understand each other better...allowing us to offer Grace a bit freer, and to forgive a bit quicker. I know my war...I know my struggles.
Perhaps, seeing each person as a 'little war' helps me offer them the love that God is continually offering this 'little war', named Mark.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
United States government officials, including FBI director Mueller, Secretary of State Clinton, and President Obama, have condemned the release as a mockery of justice. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill stands by his decision based on "compassion." While skeptical citizens around the world are asking about the "coincidental" oil deals that are forming between the UK and Libya.
For a fuller account read here.
Aside from the politics, aside from oil deals, this case poses a brilliantly challenging question: Where do Justice and Compassion overlap? Where do they diverge?
For the Christian, Grace is a, if not THE, central theme of our faith. How do we reconcile forgiveness and compassion with justice? I have heard Christians arguing many points. Mostly against the release of the bomber. I have truthfully only heard one voice advocating his release: Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
But I wonder, what is Grace if it doesn't apply here? Are there crimes too heinous for Grace? Or, is Grace a state of relationship with God with no real tangibility here on earth...
What I mean is, most people say, "We can forgive him [al Megrahi], but that doesn't mean there aren't consequences. He should stay in jail." Yes, but aren't there consequences to Grace, too? Isn't Grace absolutely and exactly about the business of saying, "You are 100% guilty, and you deserve punishment/shame/ridicule/revenge/death...but I pardon you. You are forgiven."? Do we believe our governments should have Grace?
Unfortunately, I've heard too many comments about revenge: "Responsible for 270 deaths." "Mass murderer." "Killed innocent children coming home for Christmas [the majority of passengers were youth]." "The 270 didn't get to say goodbye to their families before they died."
Grace. Justice. Compassion. Law.
They just don't mix, and in the words of Philip Yancey, the problem of evil is rivaled only by the Scandal of Grace. Grace isn't fair. Perhaps it's not even right. But in the end, we all want it. We all need it. I may never have killed 270 in an airplane, but I've lusted, hated, coveted, lied, cheated, stolen, gossiped, slandered, and idolatrized. If only my sin were as simple and singular as blowing up an airplane.
When I see God face to face in judgement, I, for one, am not going to ask for Justice; rather, I'm praying for Mercy. It seems to me that Mercy is the central theme of the Scriptures. From eye for an eye [a misunderstood law that prevented outlandish revenge murders for menial crimes] to bless those that persecute you, from Moses to Jesus, the Good Book scandalizes our preconceptions of Justice by nullifying it with Grace.
To be honest, I don't know what to think about all this. I've thought about it every day since I first heard...from the time I've woken up to my last waking thought, I've asked myself: "What is Grace?"
Done for Grace, this event looks to be a miraculous outbreak of the Kingdom of God. If done for Oil, this event looks to be an evil injustice of the worst kind..."Justice" bought with blood money (or oil).
What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Psalm 119:65-72 says,
Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Have you ever been "smeared with lies?" I sure have. A few years ago, I had a group of people smearing me with lies quite viciously. It was as humorous as not doing weddings on Purdue football gamedays to using other people's sermons right off line (wouldn't they be better if I did this?) to as serious as having an affair. [btw, none are true...though I have been tempted...by the Purdue football thing that is!]
I relate with that Psalm: "Their hearts are callous and unfeeling." I remember thinking, "Why?" Why would someone create stories like these? Why would someone make me the focal point of their slander, gossip, and lies? What hurt the most was finding out that some of them came from people I considered friends...
Like the Psalmist, too, I have learned a lot from that experience. I thank God that I didn't stoop to their level even though I wanted to punch one of them in the face...OK, I REALLY wanted to punch one of them in the face!
A practical learning point has been my hatred of celebrity gossip magazines, TV shows, etc. Living in the limelight has perks, but no one deserves to have their lives smeared by lies...People, Us, National Inquirer...all trash.
In the end, God is our judge. I do believe in God's teachings. They are more precious than gold or silver. For no amount of money, power, or prestige could give me the healing and peace that I have now after betrayal like that.
Psalm 119, Teth, is true: God does good to his servants. I have tasted this goodness, and it is sweeter than honey.
My prayer is that all of us might find healing...and forgiveness...
Friday, August 14, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The words are powerful, but the story that Yancey shares from it is beyond powerful. It was amazing, and I'll be sharing it it an upcoming sermon series about Grace.
10 Word Gospel...That wasn't bad for 10 words. Here are some fellow bloggers who are trying to capture the Gospel 10 words.
I guess I've always had a problem with what I call "bumper sticker" theology. It's not that I need some erudite, uber-intelligent description of the Gospel. Not at all. In fact, I believe Max Lucado is one of the best theologians of my day, and he has been called "too simple", "shallow", "Gospel-lite."
My problem with bumper sticker theology is that it so often fails to capture the entire Good News of God. Jesus had some AMAZING sound bites: "I cam to seek and to save the lost."; "For God so loved the world..."; "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people."; "I am the way, the truth, and the life...". Yet, with it stands that Jesus kept giving sound bites...There was never ONE that captured it all.
There's no one parable...No one Gospel viewpoint...No one Epistle letter that captures the Gospel. So why do we continue to try to "give the Gospel in 10 words or less."
It seems to me that this is a part of the Western world's sickness of "Now." We want it quick and now, and we don't want it to challenge us too much, so keep it short!!!
So, if you want to see my theology on a bumper sticker on my car...well, I'm going to need a bigger car.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wouldn't it be nice if bills and payments took a week off? Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had a job that paid the bills! Wouldn't it be nice if everyone felt a strong need to work for a paycheck?
Times are hard. Speaking with another local pastor, our discussion quickly went to how many people are coming to us for assistance. I don't think many have a clue. The numbers are truly overwhelming. My heart goes out to those needing help...and those who have become dependent upon handouts (even as they admittedly frustrate me).
God I pray for a week off from financial debts and burdens for those in need. Be their provider. Be our God. Thank you for work. Thank you for the generosity of those who give that others might have food on their table, running water, and electricity. Thank you for your love. Amen.
Monday, July 13, 2009
To be honest, I'm not sure eye candy even works...It was more like eye frappe! Once the previews were over, Transformers never stopped moving. I'm fairly sure the entire movie was shot by a cocaine addict. From the actual camera angles moving constantly, to the lack of a central focusing point, the screen was buzzing with motion.
A few points that struck me in this movie:
- Doing the right thing is often costly, but always is the best thing. From Optimus' sacrifice to Sam's choices, it was good to see a movie advocating that we choose the better option for others.
- The Pyramids are still one of the greatest engineering feats of human history. So much so that we moderns want to believe that aliens did it to make us feel better about building crappy stuff with all the technology and power equipment we have.
- There are way too many wimpy "boy" male lead-roles in Hollywood. Come one Shia, get some chest hair and be a man!
- I'll never look at wrecking balls the same way ever again...
- While denouncing violence, the movie spends over two hours using violence to rake in millions...as a critic said, "There was enough firepower used in the special effects to take over a small country."
- Overall, it was OK. It was incredibly shallow in thought, coherence, and plot. I'm not sure there was any character development, but, wow, the special effects were spectacular.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Sometimes, when you live in a golden castle, you forget the value of gold. Living with such a wonderful wife, it's easy to take her for granted. My personal experience from the trip was a renewed appreciation for my beautiful wife and her heart.
Yesterday was Isaiah's 4th birthday, too! Such a big man! I took some time to spend with family. We ate at a McDonald's playplace (Isaiah's vocal request whenever we eat out), and we played during the afternoon. For the party we went to Chucky-Cheese's, and Mommy had made a birthday cake with Spiderman on it. He told us repeatedly "Thank you" and that he enjoyed his birthday. As a parent that melts your heart...to have your child truly appreciate gifts and love. It was a great day.
My hope is to get some pics up soon, too!
Monday, June 15, 2009
With an average of 151 children per day attending, we were busy! It was a beautiful week sharing the love of God to children of which 1/3 had no church affiliation! What an amazing outreach to have 5o children with no church affiliation coming back 5 days in a row!
The spirit of the week was mostly one of love and getting along, which instantly came to mind as I read Ephesians 4:5-6...
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is
over all and in all and living through all.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
St. Paul says,
"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to fully understand."
What a fantastic verse that we too often miss. Love is experiential not understandable. Love is something to be felt, joined in, participated in, given, received...but never understood.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Right now I'm in the book of Ephesians. I'm struck by how many "quotables" are here, and I wonder if in fact it was written with the purpose of being a general letter to many churches to share. OK, enough with historical criticism...
Something really struck me reading chapter 2 that I haven't really noticed before. In verses 12(b) - 13 it says,
You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have
been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now
you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
I loved this because I don't think I personally would find any hope in a world without redemption. Not some going to heaven, pie-in-the-sky sort of thing, but real redemption. This is in fact what brought me to give my life following God: Redemption.
My faith gives me hope that all people, myself included, can heal. My faith gives me hope that all of us can change. My faith gives me hope that we aren't fated to our biology or our environment or our nurturing. My faith gives me hope that Christ's death and Resurrection holds up for all to experience what it means to die to the old and live in the new.
While I am reluctantly God's, I know there is something missing without the hope of Redemption. And there is no Redemption without Christ. And so, I know that my Redeemer lives because I have tasted the hope of redemption. I have experienced the second chance. I am recreated.
Thank you, God for this hope. I treasure it with all that have and with all that I am.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
What I'm intrigued about is the story's ending...
Isn't it interesting...Living in a community of faith transforms the praxis of the skeptic. Obviously, he hasn't bought into Liberty's faith, but he has experienced the transformational power of living the Jesus Life.
Even though he's back at Brown, Roose still tries to pray every day. He
says the act of prayer changes him, referring to the writings of Christian
author Oswald Chambers. "He said that it's not so much that prayer changes
things as that prayer changes me — and then I change things," Roose says.
"That's going to be important for me — to sit down every day and think about the
problems and the challenges facing other people in my life, and really trying to
increase my own compassion that way."
IMHO, this is an anecdotal confirmation of the "Belong, Practice, Believe" model of discipleship. Living the Resurrection of Jesus is the call of the Christian, and when we do that we offer to the world healing, hope, and life.
Monday, June 1, 2009
- I recently came across Blake Huggins' blog, and he has a beautiful disclaimer...fyi, I HATE disclaimers. They are like a person sewing quilt with another on the other end unraveling it. This however was different. Kudos to Blake!
- I loved The Dark Knight. Not just because of Heath Ledger (though he did do superb job); moreover, I love the acting skills of Christian Bale. His start was just as amazing has his excellence in Batman. Wow.
- Out of Ur, the Christianity Today blog, has had a series of postings on an unfortunately quiet controversy. Seriously, this makes me want to puke. Civil Religion wrapped in patriotism is one of the most evil and satanic vices within the American Church.
- The murder of a "late-term" abortion doctor in his church is sadly ironic. A "Pro-Life" extremist takes the life of a life-taker in a life-affirming place. This story is sad at every single turn. Abortion. Partial-birth abortion. Murder. If God cries, today would be a day...
- You know I love Purdue football, but I'm especially proud of the Purdue FCA members who went to Haiti on a mission trip.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I don't like giving handouts that exasperate the problem by enabling dependence. I have come up with my own policy of helping people that gets more detailed and requires more participation as help continues. Unfortunately, with a steady average of 2-3 requests per week, I have only had two people meet requirements for a second time of helping (which only requires that the person track their expenses for one week).
Today was a good day. One of our recipients of aid came. She had found employment, and was up to date on all her bills. Praise God!
Really. Praise God!
This is exactly the kind of help we are here to provide...to help someone get on their feet. To help someone have the dignity to not have to ask for help time and time again...to be completely enslaved to someone else's whims or charity. To show someone the love that Jesus taught us to give. To be Christ to a hurting and broken world.
Today was a good day, and it makes every assistance we give all worth while.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Is there something that you could not forgive? Is there something for which there is no going back? Is there some wrong that keeps you from loving someone?
Does Grace move beyond forgiveness? Are there things that you can forgive but not reconcile with another person over?
These are hard questions if we dig deeply in our hearts.
Personally, if someone hurt either of my babies intentionally, especially abusing them, I would need God's amazing power to find an ounce of love, mercy, and Grace within my heart.
What's amazing about Grace is that God is doing this every day.
Perhaps believing in God is one thing...but believing in Grace is another adventure of itself!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Having a ton of text in one post of a blog isn't quite what's supposed to happen, so I'm currently asking our A/V people at church if we could podcast sermons. They've been positive to the idea, and I've been doing some research on what equipment we need/don't need. I don't think it will be hard once we get it going...
I'm excited to include our shut-ins who can't make it to church on Sunday mornings, and I think podcasting might be the best way to do that. Then again, we could post small videos of our service, too, but that would take a bit more of work each week...
What do you think? Text, audio podcasts, or videos?
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
While I am VERY excited for the United Methodist Church to acknowledge its global nature, I am very disappointed that we are taking innocuous steps toward accepting homosexuality.
For clarification, one amendment regarding membership in the Book of Discipline comes after a controversy of a pastor denying membership to an openly practicing homosexual. The pastor was unjustly defrocked without pay by his bishop until the Judicial Council voted his actions within UMC pastoral discretion. Unfortunately, the bishops banded together under a concern of episcopal authority and wrote a weak letter in support of the offending bishop's actions.
At stake now, is the very essence of membership. It is about being in a "club" or is it a vow of discipleship and faithful living?
Membership is not a "right." Membership is a declaration of lifestyle and intentionality to discipleship. If homosexuality is a sin, as the Bible clearly indicates and as the UMC has stated, then the act of unrepentant homosexuality is an obstacle to membership...
Just as unrepentant adultery, lying, stealing, lusting, pride, greed, overboard consumption of resources, etc., are wrong and should be a red flag for membership, so too should unrepentant homosexuality.
We can't pick our sins just because out culture says that something is OK. Why have membership if anyone and everyone has a "right" to it? Isn't that just the same as constituent? To be fair, I have noticed that many vibrant and growing churches dismiss "membership" as status all together.
I may have to evaluate if I do another membership class...Why waste the time of people getting up front and saying, "Nothing's changed. I sat in some classes, and now I stand up here taking vows that anyone could take and not mean."
It seems to me that we are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back as we continue to water down what it means to be disciple of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Seriously, why? For what purpose? If the music is indicative, the church is going to need to be moved again...and again...and again, until it is in a museum.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
with Main Street Christian Church
The service was a darker service highlighted by the Scriptures...I give no words from my sermon for I said little, and what I did say pales in comparison to the recorded words of those who knew Jesus best...
Prelude: It Happened on That Fateful Night Sara Peterson
Greeting: Mark Need
A Call to Worship: Ken Rickett
Father God, you did not send your Son so that we could keep on doing life as we always have done. Jesus’ life and death signal to us a new work in our own lives. Help us to see you at work in the Cross where Jesus took upon himself our pain, our guilt, our sin, our shame, even our hatred and violence. As we remember the blood of the Christ flowing down the Cross, God, we ask you to wash us. Make us new. Give us the courage to be crucified with Christ so that we too may have victory over sin and shame in our own lives. Write us into Jesus’ story, Almighty God. Amen.
*Meditation in Music: Old Rugged Cross UMH #504
Luke 22:39-44: Jesus prays alone
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my forgetfulness and the times I take you for granted. Help me to be mindful that in my sinfulness I have offended you and grievously hurt you. Have mercy and forgive my shortcomings.
Matthew 26:47-56: Jesus is arrested
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, so many times have I abandoned your teachings in favor of expediency. I have left behind all that you taught so many times and have neglected my duty to love others as you have loved me. Forgive me and bless me with your strength.
Pastoral Prayer Ken Rickett
Mark 14:61-64: The Sanhedrin tries Jesus
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, sometimes I find myself confronted by unjust accusations from people I considered to be my friends. The pain I felt was so terrible at this betrayal; yet in your case, you forgave them before they did you harm and attempted to defame you. Teach me how to be humble and forgiving, but most of all how to love so completely.
Mark 15:6-19: Pilate sentences Jesus and crown of thorns
Let us pray
Lord Jesus, it was my sins that condemned you to the cross; and I ask you by the merits of this sorrowful journey to assist my soul in its journey toward eternity. Never permit me to separate myself from you again, and help me to grow in my love of God the Father and appreciate your sacrifice for me.
John 19:17: Jesus carries his cross
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, I accept all the tribulations I will have to endure for the rest of my life. I ask you, by the merits of the pain that you endured, to grant me strength to endure and carry my cross through life with patience and resignation. I repent of my sins and ask that you help me keep from separating myself from you ever again.
Meditation in Music Cheryl Owens
Luke 23:33-34: Jesus is crucified
Meditation in Video The Cross
*Meditation in Music: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross UMH #298
Luke 23:39-43: Criminals speak to Jesus
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, so many times I have been so selfish in my pain that I forgot how others too feel pain. Sometimes I have forgotten to help out when I could have, and I violated your final commandment that we love one another.
John 19:28-34: Jesus dies on the cross
Let us pray.
My dying, Lord Jesus, I embrace devoutly as I behold the cross you died on for me. My sins have merited for me a miserable death; but by your death, I have hope. Let me die embracing your feet and burning with a love for you.
Meditation in Music Upon a Sinner’s Cross Choir
John 19:38-42: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Meditation in Music Jesus by Rich Mullins
Please exit in silence when you are finished praying
Thursday, April 9, 2009
around Candle-lit tables for "families" to gather
Scripture: John 15:9-17
Sermon: "The Family"
We gather this evening to remember the last night that Jesus spent with his Disciples. Gathered around a meal, they cele-brated Passover with unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine, and lamb. Leonardo DiVinci’s Last Supper has given us an iconic image of that night. We picture the square table with Jesus in the middle, the feminine John leaning on Jesus, Peter looking intense, with them all sitting on chairs.
Though a masterpiece of art, it doesn’t have much historic resonance. Jesus and his followers would have been reclined on sofa like pillows on the floor around a small table just a few inches off the ground. Though John loved Jesus as a brother, he was also known as one of the “Sons of Thunder”…To me it sounds like Hell’s Angels or something and my guess is that a dude named a Son of Thunder doesn’t look too much like Mary Magdalene, despite the controversies of the Divinci Code!
No on that evening they celebrated the Jewish Passover, a fam-ily ritual of eating a meal and reading the story of the Exodus from Egypt. How God told the Hebrew slaves to kill an un-blemished, perfect lamb and paint the wood above their doors with its blood. They were to gather their family together, and they ate together and prepared for the journey that God was calling them to take. And later that night, the Angel of the Death came and took the sons of Egypt, thus forcing Pharaoh to let God’s people go. It is a story of deliverance…when the Angel of the Death passed over.
And Jews still to this day gather together as families, they eat supper together, they tell the story of God and Moses and the Hebrew slaves…how God humbled the man who would play at god, Pharaoh, and they celebrate God’s blessing of Salvation for their people.
Passover is a big deal, and part of why it has remained a stead-fast part of Jewish faith is that it is based entirely around the family. You eat the Passover with family. It’s a great honor, too, to be invited by a Jewish friend to Passover because it means you are being welcomed as family.
That night, when Jesus ate with his Disciples…It was All about family.
This was written to a website called Adoption.com and is part of a group of parents that discusses trying to find their adopted children. Here is an exerpt:
My search has taken me to many places, some I never want to visit again. There are times that my daughters and I think that perhaps my son just doesn't want to be found. So, here again I go feeling as if I may be dumping salt in an open wound.
From there she takes time to give some specifics about the date, birthplace and adoption agency - in hopes that someone will read it - and help her find her son. She goes on –
All I want is just to know he is fine, and happy. To let him know that he has 4 sisters and a brother, 3 brand new nieces. I may not be on this earth for much longer, I have a brain tumour. I realize that some adoptees don't want to contact their birth families. I don't even need to meet him. Although that would be a dream come true. We just want him to know that every day I think of him. I celebrate his birthday each year. People want to know how many kids I have, I answer 6… Perhaps this may reach him, maybe not, but I just have to keep searching.
It's easy to read the agony in this mother's voice. To know that somewhere in this world there is a son that was born to her, which she desperately wants to meet, and has been trying to contact, but has had no luck…
A man named Mark who lives in a very white city named Springfield MO has three girls of colour. He and Karen traveled to India several years ago to adopt their daughters from an or-phanage. You'd think that cultural divide and the unknown medical history of their girls would be their greatest burden. Not so. Mark and Karen are frequently asked, "are those kids YOURS? We also get a lot of people asking, even when we are out eating as a family, are they sisters? I know what they mean, but it's obvious they are sisters now." When Mark’s daughters were small a woman came up to him in the supermarket and said "you should be ashamed of yourself, having children by so many different mothers." He replied, "It's worse than you think, they all have different fathers, too" and walked off.
When Jesus told his Disciples to gather together and prepare the Passover feast, Jesus made a statement: You are my family. It’s something that Jesus pointed out during his ministry, too. Once, he went so far as to ignore his half-brother, and say, “Those that do what I command are my mother and my sisters and my brothers.” One of the amazing statements of the Bible is that God calls us His adopted children.
Along those lines, Tertullian once said that "Christians are made, not born." In the New Testament baptism is fundamen-tally an adoption by God. An adopted child does not chose her/his parents, they are chosen by their new parents. They are MADE children of the parents. Likewise God choses us…God makes us His! As William Willimon says, "faith is accepting that we are children of God.
You see Jesus instituted a new family. A family by blood. A family by The Blood! By his blood. You and I in faith are brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus invites us to feast as fam-ily.
Jesus’ command, his only new command, was this: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
It is the voice of a dying parent, begging the siblings to get along after he is gone. It is the cry of every parent who sees their children fighting and hating each other. It is the very tears of God that today, the Church still fights amongst itself. Crying heresy here! Wrong theology there! Not good enough! Too liberal! Too conservative!
Here in the USofA, I see so many churches interested in com-peting with each other as they try to reshuffle the deck. Not realizing that of the 52 cards in the deck, 40 of them are still on the floor dying to be picked up.
If we are to take anything from this evening. If we are to be-lieve anything about Jesus’ desire for us, his followers, it is this: Love one another.
You and I…We’re family. Sure we may disagree from time to time, but we’re family. Jesus says to love one another. To be one. To have one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one Lord.
Tonight let’s eat this supper in honor of Jesus, as brothers, sis-ters, family…Loving one another.
How sad that a brilliant, yet disturbed mind was taken so young by drugs.
Here's to the musician that brought the world "Blew" and "Drain You"...the two very best Nirvana songs.
Monday, March 23, 2009
What a great show! Lion-o was awesome, and Cheetara was hot!
I haven't seen an episode in years...maybe I'll have to do some looking around and change that!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Scripture: Titus 2:1-15
Just Like Jesus
God Loves to Renovate - In his book, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado speaks of how his wife likes to renovate. She loves changing the curtains, painting walls, rearranging furniture. He says that it’s a passion of hers, and that their house is al-ways changing. He says that once they bought their house, he thought that it was all done...that after the negotiating and moving in, they could just relax...Not so...immediately there were remodeling projects and a concerted effort to make the place better.
And has time has gone on, he’s begun to appreciate this about his wife...he even goes so far as to say that she picks up this trait from her Father...Her Heavenly Father! He says, “God loves to decorate. God HAS to decorate. Let him live long enough in a heart, and that heart will begin to change. Walls of anger will be demolished and shaky, fearful foundations re-stored.
God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way...He wants you to be Just Like Jesus.
Something Better - A father tells the story of a how he and his toddler daughter would go to the park together. They would play, and play. After a while, he would go and buy her an ice-cream cone. One day, he bought the cones like normal, but he noticed that his daughter, who had been asking intently for her ice cream, was now shoving sand into her mouth...
Where he intended delicacy, she was shoving dirt. Did he love her with dirt in her mouth. Of course! Was she any less his daughter? Of course NOT! But, he had to take her over to the water fountain, clean out her mouth, and teach her not to put dirty sand in her mouth...
It’s the same with God. God has taken us to the fountain of His love is washing our lives clean. He says to each of us, “I have something better for you...and so he cleanses us of our filth...of our immorality, our dishonesty, our prejudice, our bitterness, our greed.
And while it may not always feel good, and the renovations might be a bit disheveling, We can rest assured that God has something better for us....much better.
Salvation is Here!
New Life - Rabbi Beryl Cohon has been one of the most ex-pressive thinkers in Judaism. Rabbi Cohon used to love to walk down the bank of the Charles River in the Cambridge-Boston area. One day he saw a number of boys sailing toy sailboats. They had seven little boats in the lagoon. Some were moving faster than others; one or two capsized and had to be pulled out and righted; one struck the embankment and had to be pushed off. Some barely had enough wind in their sails to drift along. A few were moving very fast. The same wind, blowing from the same direction, caused some to capsize, some to stall, some to move fast, and some to move in circles. They all were turning in different directions when the same force was playing upon all of them.
The explanation, of course, lies in the set of the sail. As the sail is adjusted, so does the boat travel. If the wind is caught, the skillful sailor can even guide a vessel in the very teeth of the storm.
Live Wisely – Paul is calling us to live wisely. Jesus said, “Be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” Part of the Christian faith, of being a Jesus follower is using our heads. To understand wise living. To make good choices. To under-stand that there are easy ways that fail and hard ways that suc-ceed. For example, too many people want to get rich quick and so they fall into the “5 easy steps to wealth” stuff…or they buy with credit cards to “pay it off later” or they buy homes with variable rate mortgages, not understanding that if rates go up they’ll be unable to afford their home! Instead, God calls us to lives of saving, living within our means, of buying only what we can afford, of earning all we can, saving all we can, and giving all we can.
God calls us to live wisely in all parts of our lives, and unfortu-nately, there’s a part of Christian culture that assumes that brains don’t matter…that using our heads isn’t important. I remember in our college ministry there were students who didn’t care about their grades or about learning, and it always made me mad because our professors saw it as a weakness of our faith…that someone being a Christian encouraged us to not think. On the contrary, we are called to be wise.
Filled with Love - In an age when the word 'love' is greatly abused, it is important to remember that the primary compo-nent of biblical love is not affection but commitment. Warm feelings of gratitude may fill our consciousness as we consider all that God has done for us, but it is not warm feelings that Deut. 6:5 demands of us but rather stubborn, unwavering commitment. Similarly, to love our neighbor, including our enemies, does not mean that we must feel affection for them. To love the neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seri-ously. [p. 260]
Integrity – We must live with integrity…To be honest, to be trustworthy, to live at home like we profess at church.
No Slandering (Gossip) – You can’t love your neighbor if you are talking about them behind their back. You can’t love someone if you’re assassinating their character. You can’t for-give or not judge someone if you continue to bring up their mis-takes or their moral failures again and again. Jesus followers don’t gossip. They don’t slander. They encourage and edify and build each other up.
1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
2. My mother taught me RELIGION. "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
4. My mother taught me LOGIC. "Because I said so, that's why."
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC. "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
7. My mother taught me IRONY. "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA. "You'll sit there un-til all that spinach is gone."
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
12 My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY. "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION. "Stop acting like your father!"
15. My mother taught me about ENVY. "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. "Just wait until we get home."
20. My mother taught me HUMOR. "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."
22. My mother taught me GENETICS. "You're just like your father."
25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE. "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"
By Life - Deut. 6:4 - I say it alot, but it’s true...the most impor-tant thing we can do is to teach our children when we get up in the morning, when we lie down, when we’re at home or even on a journey, all of life should be spent teaching our children about life and faith. About God and how to love each other. All of life should be an exercise of teaching life. We are called to be teachers, teachers through the way we live.
By Example - We Need People to Teach us what to learn!
A man, returning from a business trip, was met at the airport by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were stand-ing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. An extremely at-tractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones."
On the way home his grew suspicious, "How come you knew the name of that stewardess?" she asked.
The man replied smoothly, "You see, my dear, her name was posted right up front in the plane, under the names of the pilot and co-pilot."
To which the wife replied, "Okay, now give me the names of the pilot and co-pilot."
Sometimes, don’t even know what we need to learn, so we need someone to teach us what to learn. Older adults, we need you. We need your voice in the church. We need you to be active and teaching because you’re experiences and lives can teach us…teach us not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to teach us about what works…about how to slow down and take time for our families…for our faith…for our lives. We need your wisdom and your experience to teach us. And we younger adults need to listen and open our ears to what we might learn.
By Word – God’s word is our authoritative guide of faith. This is why a sermon is such a large portion of worship. As Protestants we believe that in learning from God’s Word, our lives our changed and we allow God’s Spirit to transform our hearts and minds.
But in knowing God’s Word, we also become teachers our-selves. We are ready to help others live the life of faith. We are able to share why we believe what we believe. Why God calls us to lives of purity, etc.
[Apology: I didn't have the ending of my sermon in notes, and I don't remember what I said!]
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Scripture: James 1:22-27
What are we doing? - a story about a small, rural, traditional, almost perfect Roman Catholic community. They observed all the laws. They ate only fish on Fridays. But one day, a Methodist moved to town. Everything went well until the townsfolk realized he loved to barbecue steaks on Fridays. He was a nice enough man, but the Friday menu violated Catholic doctrine. What to do? The townspeople decided to convert him; that made the most sense.
In time, their plan worked. Although it was summer, the church was Easter filled, with people standing in the back of the sanctuary. At the moment when he joined the Catholic church, the priest looked at the former Methodist and said, "You were born a Methodist. You were raised a Methodist. Now you are a Catholic!" The church erupted in applause. Everyone was happy.
Until the next Friday evening, when the neighbors again smelled the aroma of barbecued steaks. They couldn''t believe their noses. They got the priest and together they walked up to the former Methodist''s fence. He was looking down at the steak on the grill and said, for all to hear, "You were born a steer. You were raised a steer. Now you are a fish!”
Some conversion stories just don’t have happy endings, do they!?! While this is obviously a joke, there is a serious question of warning underneath the humor: What makes us who we are? Is it what we say we are? Or is it how we live our lives?
Why do we go to church?
Why do we read the Bible?
Why do we believe in Jesus?
Doing - Almost 1600 years ago, St. Augustine wrote, "Correct interpretation of the Word of God always increases the love of God and neighbor."
What we read, and what we hear in the gospel must be lived out.
James offers an illustration to help us with this crucial point. What would happen if every morning we looked in the mirror, saw our reflection, and then as we went off to face our day, we forgot what we looked like? It would be a mess, that's what. We wouldn't know if the ID card we were holding in our hand belonged to us or not. We'd go into important staff meetings looking like we just woke up, or we'd go to the ball courts in our best suits.
The same thing happens to the people who attend church week after week but never allow the word of God to penetrate their lives enough to lead them to action. These people listen to the scripture and nod their heads in agreement, but then fail to act according to what they see.
Phillip Brooks told a story about some savages who were given a sun dial, in order that by the casting of the sun's light and shadow on it they might know the time of day. So desirous were they to honor and keep it sacred that they built a roof over it. Sometimes people regard their religion as something to be sheltered and used only on the Sabbath. Religion must be utilized continually to be of real help in life. Ours should be an everyday faith and practice. We should expect our religion to provide us with a wholesome and helpful understanding of God and humanity's relation with him. It should help us to recognize the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. From these concepts we are enabled to develop social consciousness and group responsibilities. This helps us to establish communication and personal interaction between God and man, and man to all mankind.
Avoiding Corruption - James gives us the wonderful image of a mirror held before us which enables us to see who we are in the light of God's love. Then, he cautions, after looking at ourselves in that mirror we should not go out into the world and forget what we, as Christians, are supposed to look like. We are to be engaged with the world, but we are supposed to reflect our true Christian selves instead of the world's persona. We must so live that our Christian reflection is commensurate with what we reflect to the world.
The persona was the mask which actors in Greek drama wore during plays. One character could play many roles. By changing the persona, the mask, a character changed personality. One could easily slip into another role and be a different self. James is arguing for a self in which beliefs and behavior within the church are consistent with one's actions and attitudes beyond the doors of the church.
We’ll get into this more next week, but it is essential to the life of faith that our lives remain pure, unsullied, and holy: Given to God and washed in the blood of Christ.
Neighborly Faith – Last week, we heard Jesus teach about loving God, the primary commandment. And part of that commandment is loving our fellow image-bearers of God…loving our neighbors, which is the 2nd greatest commandment.
The life of a Jesus follower is different from a church-goer. A church-goer goes to church at the right time. A Jesus follower is loving people at the right time. A church-goer knows what a good sermon SOUNDS like. A Jesus follower knows what a good sermon LIVES like. A church-goer listens for good music. A Jesus follower makes good music with their lives. A church-goer knows how to hold a plastic smile for an hour: A Jesus follower knows the Joy of Christ in times of blessing and times of sorrow. A church-goer knows to love their neighbor. A Jesus follower loves their neighbor.
Jesus is calling us to a neighborly faith: A faith that loves God and loves neighbor. Are you willing to follow Jesus? No really, are you willing? Am I willing?
It’s easy to say, but hard to do. I will follow Jesus…I’d like to play a song by Chris Rice. The words will be on the screen, and I would like for all of us to look and listen as he encourages us to live neighborly faith…right here….right now.
Life Means So Much
What are you writing? - The British essayist, G. K. Chesterton, got it right back in 1910 when he wrote in What's Wrong with the World?: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." We know the scriptures; we are aware of what is necessary, right, and wrong. We, too, often talk the talk but cannot adequately walk the walk. We say all the right things, but too often we cannot put into practice what we know is right and proper. Our failures make us hollow shells that need to be filled.
What are you writing? Is your life a witness to the story of God? Is your life a page in a book that stretches back throughout time? Or are you too buys doodling to actually put down something significant on your paper. Casting Crowns sings a song called “Father, Spirit, Jesus” that says, “God the worship we bring is more than the songs that we sing, it’s a reflection of our ever changing lives...the best we have to offer.” True worship, real faith is living your life for Jesus: Giving it all up for him...and not looking back!
Make your days count! - So what are you doing with each set of 24 hours in your day? The days are short...And our lives are only 70+ plus years. Not that long. It’s easy to say, “Tomorrow”, but what if tomorrow never comes? Or if tomorrow has it’s share of “tomorrow’s”? Will we ever truly live if we keep putting off God’s calling for our lives?
Sundays are for celebrating together...the 6 days between are where your faith is lived out, sharpened, spent, grown, stretched, encouraged, challenged,...and it’s where it counts. Count your days...and may Jesus teach you to truly make your days count!
40 For 40
Visit Nursing Home
Volunteer with Children
Eric Butterworth tells the story of a "college professor who had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boys'' future. In every case, the students wrote, He hasn''t got a chance.'' Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow-up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.
"The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, How do you account for your success?'' In each case the reply came with feeling, There was a teacher . . .''
"The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement."
The teacher''s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. "It''s really very simple," she said. "I loved those boys." (2)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Secretly, I had plans for my parents to come to our house and watch the kids while we went out for dinner. Unbeknownst to her, she would come home to a party with ice-cream cake and crazy children ready to inject raw sugar into their bodies.
Unfortunately, Sophie got sick, and I had to pick her up from daycare...meaning that I had to give away the surprise to set up new arrangement...HOWEVER, despite my disappointment, we had a great meal together, a family party, and Stephanie had a happy birthday...though she didn't like my card very much...[insert sinister laugh].
This year Stephanie has picked up more hours at the YMCA, and she is almost full-time. She is super busy...I'm super busy, too. So, it's been hard to find "couple" time to talk and build into our friendship. Even though it was my desire for her to pick up more hours, I've had a hard time struggling with "Mom" not being home, available, 'at our beck and call', etc. I've been down right cranky about it a few times...unfairly.
Yet, here she is working more hours than she is paid to teach preschoolers and help young girls build self-esteem. She volunteers at her church, the daycare, she cooks, she cleans, she takes care of our children, she finds time to go to Bible study, and she puts up with me.
Truly, she is a saint, and I love her!
Here's to you, Steph! In a way it's our happy birthday...because on that day, we all got you!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Today, we make the gods change for us. Move over sun, my govenor now says that I have to change my clock....
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
On the lightest note, Sophie is sick, and she can't sleep all through the night without waking up to cough and wipe snot from her nose...Of course, she cries to be held each time....every 1/2 hour. So I'm admittedly tired as I began the day.
Last night my uncle was diagnosed with colon cancer. They know little at this point, but the "C" word is always scary, and apparently, the tumor was large. Please pray for my Uncle Kent and his family...that God would offer his peace and that good news may be had.
This weekend I received news that one of Stephanie and I's friends received a less than positive report about his cancer treatments. He needs more chemo, which in his words, he and his wife "are initially feeling somewhere on the spectrum between disappointed and devastated." Please, pray for my friends Alan and Jan...pray for their spirits to be encouraged and for Alan's body to be healed.
And, doing some research for sermons, I read this article about Kenya's past, present, and future violence...and it's implications for feeding their nation. The personal stories of violence were so heartbreaking...a badly scarred mother whose burns are from a church full of people being set on fire...and the wounds of her son's heart who wants to kill and "burn everything." All because a few men want more money...more power. No words adequately describe how I feel reading the article...I can't imagine living it.
Some days the suffering and pain of the world are all too real. Maybe it's a lack of sleep. Perhaps it's Lent. It could be a reminder of the Passion, or suffering, of Jesus...the Suffering for us that proved God's love for us. The Suffering of God for our sins and the sins of the whole world...
Or maybe God is reminding me today that his children are hurting...
And what am I going to do to help?
Maybe it's all of that.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Some friends in church gave us a wireless internet router that they were no longer using, so now we have wifi at home!!!
Finally, Stephanie and I can both work on the computers at the same time. We both use the internet a lot for our work, so this should free us up some to be working at the same time.
And there's always the fact that now we can play games while the other is working, too....[whistles]...doh-dee-doh.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:18-25
Scripture Lesson: Song of Songs 4:8-5:1
I grew up on a farm. A beef farm to be specific. We had cattle at our farm, my grandpa’s farm, and my uncle’s farm. Cattle were a big part of my life, but I have to admit that it probably sounds weird that umm...well, I learned sex ed. from the animals. You see when you grow up on a farm, it’s hard NOT to notice certain things happening.
I remember one time when I was little, I asked my dad, “What are those two cows DOING!?!” Dad replied, “Well, they’re playing.” That answer worked for a while, but as I got older I realized that Dad’s answer was true, they were “playing,” but it was a much different game than I had imagined.
Nowadays, Stephanie hates it because I speak of the physical dimensions of human sexuality very much like I do those cattle. Believe it or not, what we look for in mates is pretty much identical to what a farmer looks for in a breeding herd. A muscular, powerful, virile, and healthy male. Or a female with a good birthing capacity, adequate milk production, and a healthy posture.
But guys trust me, girls don’t like to be compared to cows. I know this from experience, so if you’re needing brownie points after Valentine’s Day...you definitely don’t want to say that your girlfriend has the hips of a cow. Bad move. Don’t try it.
In all reality, though, we forget that we are animals. We’re influenced by our biology, and we have certain desires that come simply because we’re human males and females...But the question is: Are we more? The Bible begins with this question, so let’s dig in and turn to Genesis 2:7.
Dirt and Breath - Then the LORD God formed the human from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the human’s nostrils, and the human became a living person.
We are creatures of duality. We are made of dirt and formed from the earth...like every other creature, yet unlike every other creature, we are made in God’s image and God breathed into us...and this is pretty important because the word for breath and spirit are the same in Hebrew. We are dirt and spirit. As Rob Bell says, “We are angels and animals.”
“Angels and Animals” - The cattle that I saw growing up were ruled by instinct. They ate. They slept. They chewed cud. And periodically, they would mate. The cow never thought, “Does he really love me?” The bull never feared if “she is as committed to this relationship as I am?” Not at all. When the chemicals burst forth from the cow’s brain, the time was right, and the deed was done.
But we’re different from that, aren’t we? Sex is more than just a biological instinct for us. Don’t get me wrong, it is biological, but we have some other needs and desires that are wrapped around human sexuality.
Biology - If you doubt that biology has something to do with sex, try putting 30 15 yr. olds (half male, half female) in the same room, turn down the lights, and give them comfortable chairs. You’ll biology buzzing everywhere.
There was a father who knew it was time, so he sat his 6th grade son down to talk. He says, “Son, I think it’s time we talk about sex.” His son replies, “Sure, dad, what do you want to know?” There’s alot about sex that comes naturally because of all the instincts built into us.
Our biology encourages us to reproduce our genes. In fact, our biology encourages us to cast our genes out generously within the gene pool, if you get my drift. So when teach abstinence one of the great challenges is that we’re swimming upstream against our own make-up...our own biology. And before you think this is so terrible, it’s important to remember that it’s actually a good thing. Without this deep rooted desire, we wouldn’t reproduce and the species would die. And if the desire to share genes weren’t strong, the gene pool could become shallow and lead to inbreeding and/or poor genetic make-up.
But aren’t we more than our biology?
Control - One of the great medical breakthroughs that we’re living through is the discovery of genetic dispositions. In other words, we’ve discovered that some people are predisposed to certain diseases more than others. Some are more likely to have high cholesterol. Others are susceptible to alcoholism. While others are more likely to develop colon cancer. Alot of who we are and even what happens to us is written in our genes. But is that all we are?
Since I have the gene for high cholesterol, does that mean I just eat fatty junk food since it doesn’t matter? If one of you has the genetic disposition for alcoholism, does that mean that you can’t help being an alcoholic? Not at all. We are more than our genes. We’re more than animals. Just because I have a sex drive doesn’t mean that I have to be driven by sex. And, while this seems common sense, it’s amazing how many people don’t believe this. Critics of abstinence sex-ed programs often state, “they’ll do it anyway, so why fight it?”
What’s amazing to me is that sexuality is one area where we give ourselves over to our biology. Rob Bell points out that 2 famous hollywood actors, both beautiful, both famous for being professional, fit, and well trained actors, did a movie together. He was married at the time, and she had left a marriage.
Before long, he was divorced, and they were spending time together. Shortly, they were married, but before they were married, before he was divorced, they were seen together. They said they were just friends...well, we know better now. They’re response? “We couldn’t help ourselves.”
Two actors famous for being in shape, learning new accents and skills for films...Two actors known for spending countless hours beyond exhaustion...they couldn’t control themselves?
Why is it that we give a double standard to sex? We can control other things but not it? In all fairness, we control little of our biological urges anymore. We’re obese. We’ve ammassed wealth. We’ve built walls of safety and fences to keep others out of our stuff. We attack people different from us.
Are we animals? Yes. Is that all we are? No. God breathed his Spirit into us, and we carry within us the divine. And we are more than our biology. Be it promiscuity, adultery, or homosexuality, we are more than our genes: We are called to live lives pleasing to God. God has given us self-control. What makes us different from the animals? Truly, what makes us different from the animals? The ability to CHOOSE SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM OUR GENETIC DISPOSITION.
Denial - This is exactly the opposite of some others’ thinking. There are others who believe that since we are spiritual beings that we should forgo the flesh...that the desires of the flesh are bad, wicked, and evil...or perhaps more positively the desires are merely base desires and not worthy of our spiritual nature.
This line of thinking encourages the denial of the flesh, the denial of urges. And herein lies the problem, it is a way of thinking that lives in denial. Instead of balancing or controlling desire, many ascetics, of whom many are religious people have taught that we should abstain from sex.
Dangerous Celibacy - So why is this so bad? What could be wrong with people advocating a broad celibacy? Well, nothing per se except when the celibacy is coerced or forced and really rooted in an ancient philosophy that hates the human body.
I think we’ve all seen way too many reports of “celibate” religious figures abusing children in their care. And no matter what any primate in Italy may say, the problem is documented all the way back into the Middle Ages, and occurs more than just in the USA.
You see when people who are not willing or able to take vows of celibacy do so, they begin to stuff and repress their sexuality...but like any force, their sexuality must come out in some form...and in these cases it comes out in unhealthy ways taking advantage of the weakest of society, children.
Or you get Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine. Did you know that Hugh Hefner’s parents were ultra-strict Christians. They never hugged or kissed as a family when Hugh was growing up. He was taught over and over and over again that sex was bad and dirty. So does it come as any surprise that he would grow up transfixed on the very thing he was denied? Later in life, his mother apologized for her lack of affection toward him, to which he replied, “Mom, you couldn’t have done it any better. Because of things you weren’t able to do, it set me on a course to change my life and the world.”
Don’t get me wrong, celibacy is not the issue: The issue is having a negative view of something that God created and said was “good.” Sex is not evil. Our hearts are what can be evil. And anyone who broadly teaches that our bodies or that sex is evil, well, they are promoting a dangerous celibacy that is doomed to cause problems...severe problems. Problems that are really going to hurt others.
We’re neither animals nor angels. And when we pretend that we’re either or, we get all messed up. We are in fact both at the same time, and unless we learn how to be fully human, animal and spirit, only then will be able to live out our sexuallity the way God intended. Only then will we be comfortable in our own skin...That’ s right the key to being sexy is learning how to be human, the animal and spirit of God together.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 - Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain kinds of foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.
Hidden Sources - We have to be careful where our views of sex are coming from. Roman Stoicism and Greek asceticism are largely responsible for Christianity’s negative view toward sex. Our Jewish or OT heritage is largely positive on the subject. The NT has mixed statements, which means we have to dig deeper and work harder to figure it all out.
The Easy Way Out - Avoidance - But it’s always easier and more expedient when we have an agenda to just avoid an issue.
Sacred by the Word of God & Prayer - This is why we’re talking about this. Sex and its many issues within our culture are too big to ignore. God’s word says that we have to search through Scriptures in prayer with God finding what God would have for us and our sexuality.
When Sex Is Bad
The 3 P’s
Prostitution - 1 Cor. 6:12-20 - giving of ourselves in order to get something else in return. People prostitute themselves all the time...it’s just that the currency changes. It might be sex for love or sex for gifts and stuff or sex for power and fame. Unfortunately, too many people have a narrow definition of what it means to give yourself as a commodity of exchange.
Porn - Matt. 5:27-30 - Lust, dreaming of others, wanting what you can’t have, porn is one of the most profitable industries in the USA. XXXchurch.com
Promiscuity - Col. 3:5-6 - Just feeding your stomach. Doing it for the simple reason that it feels good.
Person vs. Object - objectifying others or yourself
What makes Sex Good?
Love - Eph. 5:25 - Love as Christ loved the Church - remind marriage as the model for God’s love in the world. A self-giving love...not a self-taking love.
Unity - Gen. 2:23-25 - One Flesh, Good sex, beautiful sex is within the confines of a committed loving marriage relationship.
Enjoying Naked - Prov. 5:18-20 - We must learn to enjoy the physical experiences of sex. And I know that this is a very difficult task. It will take a lot of effort, I know. But notice this comes after Love and Unity because ALL, and I mean ALL scientific evidence clearly states that sex is best in the midst of a committed, longterm marriage.
Enjoying being open and honest, vulnerable, and safe. Enjoy being captivated by someone and captivating someone else.
We’re neither animals nor angels. We’re human, and for us sex is good because God made it and God is good. So as your pastor, I encourage everyone to have Good Sex...and not settle for anything less...don’t settle for less...for to settle on anything less is to deny your humanity...and what you were made for. We were made to be in committed relationships and to experience love and unity of spirit and heart and soul. We were meant to be naked and unashamed, one flesh, and in love.