Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Musical

It was a great experience. I hadn't done "acting" since I was in a 7th grade comedy skit-show.

My favorite memories will be getting to know Don Cowper better (he's great!), getting goose-bumps from hearing the choir EVERY week, and knowing that I CAN memorize lines.

It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I did it. My prayer is that it was honoring to our Lord, and that someone was touched by the play.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Easter Musical

For the first time since Junior High, I am a part of a play. I am terrified. It is an Easter Play called "The Easter Song." I play Thomas...I said yes not understanding that Thomas is the main character! Of course many people assume that since I preach every Sunday that I am not nervous about getting in front of an audience. It's true that I don't fear public speaking, but acting is totally different. We had our first entire cast rehearsal. It is a musical - don't worry, I'm NOT singing - so the choir was there, the other actors were there, some family of participants were there. I learned very quickly that practicing with 2 people in the room is very different from having everyone there! It's amazing how little noises, or side directions can totally throw you for a loop. We had no mistakes in our small practices, but yesterday we had some 'lost' lines between us. Please pray for me as I memorize my lines. Please pray for the entire cast as we all memorize our songs and parts. Most of all please pray for our community that many would show up and hear the Gospel of Jesus and in hearing we all would believe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jalen Rose, Grant Hill, & America

I usually don't read NBA news, and somehow I got a very important story confused as an NBA story...not an American story...which this really is. The more I looked into it and listened, the less I wanted to comment, and the more I thought we should all listen.

Jalen Rose had this to say in a recent documentary about the Fab Five.

Grant Hill, a wonderful basketball player, student, and person, on the 92' Duke NCAA Championship team, had this piece in the NY Times.

This is a very interesting and important dialogue. It may anger, sadden, annoy, or bore you, but this is an important discussion for our nation.

I'd be lying if I didn't want to berate Rose. I hated everything about the "Fab Five"...which is why I had to stop and listen to what he was really trying to say...and there is more to Rose's statements than what is on the surface. I make no comment in regard to agreeing or disagreeing, other than saying, "Stop. Listen to his point." You can make your own determination.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Firing the 20 for the 80

I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. I enjoy reading his leadership and organizational insights. They usually spur me on when I need a kick in the tail.

In the interview below, he speaks of a hotel owner who "fires" 20% of his customers so that he can focus on the other 80%. Having a clientele devoted to a particular vision allows the provider to focus on that vision. How do you get that clientele? Seth suggests firing those not on board. Risky? Controversial? Yes.

I know Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg UMC has said, "The biggest growth we ever had was from 100 to 60." Mike essentially "fired" attenders of his church and lead the church to devote their ministry to a core that ended up growing exponentially. To this day, he is unflexing in regard to the aims and direction of the for thought. Lots of good stuff here, check out the video.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Mortal Reminders
[Hold up gold tube] Anyone know what this is? This is a burial record holder. Long ago, when a funeral took a casket to the cemetery, this was a part of the luggage. It went with the casket, and inside was the information about the person, casket, and plot.

It was given to me by a funeral director as a gift because he saw that I was always looking for dirt. You see I put dirt in here to take to graveside services, so when you die and I do your funeral, I will take dirt from this receptacle, pour it over your casket and say, “We commit this body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Ash Wednesday is an odd day. Christians around the world take a moment to stop and remember: “I am going to die. My days are numbered.” You and I came from the earth, and to the earth we will go. It’s pretty sobering.

I will never forget the first time I put ashes on someone’s forehead, someone I knew, someone I sat with as their spouse had surgery, someone who prayed for me before every Sunday worship service, I’ll never forget thinking as I made the Ash Cross: God, I’m telling this person they’re going to die!

Fast forward a couple of years, and my wife came forward with our son. It truly was all I could do to smear ashes on my boy’s head and get those ancient words out, “Remember, from dust you came, to dust you shall return. Repent and believe the Gospel.”

So why do we do this?

Numbered Days
We do this because our days are numbered. We have approximately 26,000 days to live. It sounds like a huge number, but when you consider that at only 33, I’ve lived 12, 174 of those days, nearly half, it doesn’t look like so many...and when one of those days is over, it’s gone...There’s no getting it back.

We have so many ways to dull that reality: TV, make-up, cosmetic surgery, games, sports, beer, drugs, relationships, even religion.

But the reality is: Our days are numbered. When Jesus came he invited us to live the abundant life, and living the abundant life means living intentionally, deliberately, thoughtfully, faithfully.

This day we make the sign of the cross in ashes to symbolize our mortality and frailties. The dust and ashes are a sign to us that we will someday die. They are a reminder to us to live each day to its fullest. What is important? What do we want to live for? What do we believe? What do we want to accomplish? What legacy do we want to leave? The dust and ashes bring these to mind...

But we the ashes also remind us of our sins, our failures, our shames, our regrets, our pains, and our sorrows. In the ancient world covering oneself with ashes was a sign of sorrow, humility, and repentence. A loaded word, repentence, means nothing more than “Turning around.”

And so the ashes are made in a cross, the symbol of the God who lived, and breathed, and died with us. The symbol of the empty tomb, and the symbol of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the grave.

In amazing irony, the ashes reflect God’s exchanging death for life, sin for forgiveness, regrets for joy. This sign is a sign of hope to those who believe in God through Christ Jesus. It is the sign of new life...not just in eternity, but right now.

Living Signs
So we hear the words of Isaiah tonight, admonishing us not to just play at the religious game, but to go out and life the crucified life.

For the next 40 days, we are to take a special time to reflect and hear God’s calling in our lives.

This Lenten season, God invites us all to a fast of addition. A fast of righteousness. The Isaiah 58 fast: This Lent I encourage you not to just subtract or fast from something, but to add something to your life.

Call it a fast, call it reflection time. In our church we’ll be calling it 40 for 40, reflecting 40 minutes for 40 days You can call it whatever you want. but I invite you to give to others by sacrificing our most precious possession: Time.

Take some time to give. Take some time to love. Take some time to feed the hungry, clothe the destitute, heal the sick, free the oppressed.

And when we do that, we will have no need for ashes. No need for sackclothe, no need for public humiliation. For then our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like noonday. And we will be known as Children of God. We ourselves will be living crosses of earth and ash, living signs of the hope and the forgiveness, and the love of God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Weekend of Ups and Downs...but More Ups!

Purdue lost to, 10th place in the B1G, Iowa. A team everyone has mauled, except IU, we lost in what was amazingly only a one point loss. We didn't hustle or play hard, and the shots didn't go in the bucket. That always equals a loss in the B1G.

Other than that, though, it was a great weekend. The local Girl Scouts had an overnight and joined us for worship. It was fun having almost 30 girls and their parents join us worshiping God!

I've been wanting to fix some sound equipment issues, and I invited Terry LeMaster to check it out. Friends from CCUMC, Terry brought his whole family, and we had a great time after church.

Later in the evening, Steph and I did Youth Group. The bright spot of any week, the DVD was very powerful. John Ortberg's The Me I Want to Be is OK, but this video was worth the entire lesson.

What a great weekend!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transfiguration Sunday

I love Transfiguration Sunday...

It has so many meanings....

Jesus on the Mountain Top with Moses and Elijah, a clear connection with the OT that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus' Transfiguration, a symbol of the glory to come.

Peter's fully human desire to capture the moment, enshrine it and focus on the place and not the Who.

The foreshadowing of the Resurrection to come, a glimpse of glory before the darkest days ahead. A glimmer of hope in the night of Jesus' ministry. Like a cancer victim receiving news the cancer is in remission. Or that the storms are over. Or the report card with a C+ instead of an F. And those times when we feel the real presence of God working in our hearts in worship and prayer.

Moments that can change our day, week, even life. Little Resurrections of hope barging into ordinary life and changing it forever.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bono's Interview about Christ

As you know, I'm a big U2 fan...Here is a great link to bono talking straight up about faith...This one is an absolute gem!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Best Thing I've Read from the Middle East Since the Bible!

Since the invasion of Iraq, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on Christians living in Middle East nations. From Iran to Iraq to Palestine to Egypt, the Christian minorities have been threatened, beaten, bombed, and killed. Churches have become hostage sites while worship services have been rocked by suicide bombers.

Arab Christians have begun fleeing their homes and staying away from worship gatherings, fearful for their lives.

The one thing that would easily solve this problem from exploding hadn't been happening, but now it has...Muslims are stepping up, speaking out, and standing beside their cousins in faith.

This news story articulates the recent turmoils in Egypt and how Muslim intellectuals and activists are calling for Muslims to support the Coptic Christians in Egypt. By going to church with them, Muslims are becoming "human shields."

How amazing. How Christ-like! And I say that with total admiration for my cousins in faith. God bless you! May our LORD, the God of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac bless you and keep you. May the God of our Fathers and Mothers protect you and our Coptic brothers and sisters.

Insha'Allah, we can have peace. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Boiler Up!

#12 Purdue @ #1 an Ohio State University tonight!

Can Purdue win? Absolutely! Will they win? Well, that's why they play the game.

The key matchup according to the media is 6' 9" Fr. J. Sullinger of aOSU vs. 6' 10" Sr. J. Johnson. Both lead their teams in scoring and rebounding. Both are the top candidates for Big Ten player of the year. Each have a lot to prove about being the dominant post player of the year...

BUT...I'm going with the guards. I think that Sullinger and JJ will both play well, and thus negate each other. The key is going to be Etwuan Moore and Purdue's defense vs. Lighty and Buford. If Threetwuan Moore continues to play like he did vs. MSU and Purdue's guards are able to deny the aOSU guards entry passes, it will be a long frustrating night for the school that pays their players...umm...I mean aOSU. If Purdue is not able to deny Sullinger the ball, it will be the beginning of a long, terrible darkness over the Big Ten as Sullinger's game will open up aOSU's long game, spelling certain doom for the forces of good.

I don't think it will go like that, though. I think it will be a hard fought game going down to the wire. Threetwuan Moore hits the game winning three.

Purdue 71
aOSU 69

P.S. Look for Seth Davis to still say Purdue is not good after the win.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Respecting Your Elders

In my line of work, I deal with a large percentage of older adults. It is no surprise, and it is often admitted by older adults themselves, that this demigraphic strongly dislikes change.

However, life is full of change, and we are living in a moment in history when the change from week to week is literally equivalent to the changes occurring in a century for most of history. Change has exploded into an ever quickening pace. More has been learned in the 20th century than all of human history combined. It truly is an unbelievable time to live!

Leading an organization, leading for best practices in communities, that means I am advocating change often. Sometimes those changes are small. Sometimes they are big.

Unfortunately, I have found that resistance to change often finds the most base, ad hominem arguments, which gets to my point: At what point does the "I'm 90..." become a trump card?

It leaves us with giving up and letting resistance to change have its way, or it becomes the perception that you're "attacking a 90 yr. old."

I guess maybe I'm jealous. I want a trump card that shames everybody even when their logic is sound. "No! You can't do that! I have brown eye brows! You just leave little ole me with brown eyebrows out. You non brown-eyebrow-liker!" Man that would be awesome to pull out when I'm obviously not right. The brown eyebrow trump card...something I didn't decide and don't control...but makes me right nonetheless.

I'm also tired. Tired of fighting. I'm tired of "That's not the way we've done it." I'm tired of "You're just young." I'm tired of "You'll learn some day." I'm tired of "Old people are left out." These accusations are merely that...accusations, ad hominem attacks that surface when the facts prove a point.

Yet, culturally, we let these arguments stand...and win. I guess I have a lot to learn about respecting my elders because I just can't when they play these games.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cheaters Do Win!

One of the lessons I'm going to have to teach my son and daughter is that cheaters do win. Contrary to what Daddy and Mommy have taught them their short lives, the NCAA is proving time and time again that it DOES pay to cheat (pun intended)!

Last night a player whose family asked for $200,000+ to play for two different schools was lauded as a hero for winning the BCS National Championship Game. In case you haven't heard, his father asked for money for Cam to go to different SEC schools. The schools turned this in, and the NCAA, ever so moral and righteous, deemed that Cam nor Auburn can't be held responsible for his father's indiscretions. The cheater wins.

This year O$U players were actually caught receiving special perks for being players and for selling Big Ten Championship rings. They were suspended for 5 games next year...BUT, they were allowed to play in the Bowl game this year. Again, the cheater wins.

John Calipari, the cheatingest coach in all of sports, has been the head man at two different universities that were given sanctions for improper recruiting violations and recruits having someone else take their SAT. Yet, the NCAA has cleared him every time. Yet, here he is the lauded Coach Calipari, at head of the (formerly) prestigious Kentucky basketball program. This cheater really knows how to win!

Here's to the cheaters! Yours is the victory and the glory and the wins! Cheers to the NCAA for being a leading force in the change of antiquated ethics...pshhh...who needs integrity...It doesn't give you trophies or $$$.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Than We Can Handle

1 Corinthians 10:13 is often misquoted/misused...I've heard it (and probably said it this way myself) "God won't give you more than you can handle." And, while this is true in a sense, it is often pulled out of its context to mean something like "God will not allow stuff to happen in your life that you cannot effectively overcome." This is false.

John Ortberg pointed this out in It All Goes Back in the Box, as he correctly writes,

People twist that statement into saying that God will never give us
more than we can handle. Really? Look around the world:
holocaust, death, martyrdom, cancer, war. Whether it's a special
assignment or just living in a fallen world, people all the time are given
burdens they cannot handle...Paul's point is that we can never worm out of
responsibility for sin by saying it's God's fault.

I'm glad I ran across this. It challenged a reading that I had blindly accepted. I knew people had more than they could handle. I've read that verse and said to myself, "There are things, I'm not sure I could handle." To be honest, I felt a sense of pressure when reading this. Nothing can break me? Really? No...that's just religious platitude.

God gives us an out when it comes to temptation, but there are circumstances in life that will beat people down, sometimes even take their life...literally and/or figuratively.

That is why it is so important for the Church to be involved and missional in its endeavors to the community and world in which it exists. There are evils and oppressions out there that are taking people's lives slowly and painfully. And it's more than any of us could handle...alone.

This is why I believe in the Church: I have seen, felt, and participated in Her Salvific mission given by Christ to redeem the world. The message of God's love and mercy are so vital to give hope, and the active love of the body of Christ through mercy and caring ministries demonstrates what salvation is really all about: wholeness.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Holiday wishes to everyone! I hope that your Christmas and New Year were fun, safe, and meaningful. This has been such a unique year, but I can say that I am learning a lot about myself lately...mostly where I need to grow as a person. As long as I can follow through with it, that's a good thing!

Speaking of growing, I've made some resolutions for myself this year. They are:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a reasonable diet.
  • Lose 20 lbs.
  • Not lose my temper as much with my children.
  • Get back to dotting more i's and crossing more t's. 2010 was a huge step back in that area!

Do you have any resolutions? Want to share?