Monday, December 22, 2008

Why do Americans need smaller homes?

Maybe the environment would benefit.  Maybe it would help the country to develop a better economic stability if we built more smaller homes.  But those aren't the reasons I'd suggest the country needs to downsize.

I've found that the more time my family spends in the same room, the better balance we have. If I have a big home, my kids are in their space, I'm in the yard working and my wife is doing her stuff to up-keep the home in her space.  The little amount of time that we all actually spend at home is not spent together.  

In a smaller home, my family spends a lot of time together.  That time is time that we are building our relationships.  That's time that we are learning to love each other.

I'm hopeful that the economic downturn will have some benefits for the family.  Smaller homes can lead to better family relationships.

How does your family use the space in your home?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Worship Styles

The issue of worship styles is like the issue of abortion.  Everyone has an opinion; everyone hope that their side will win; but no hit of an end is coming soon.

This issue was raised once again this weekend.  Some people don't want to attend a certain service because the worship leader that is not of their style will be leading.  Hmmm.

"Why don't you like his style?" I asked.

Their response, "We just don't.  We know that some people do, but we just can't worship to that style of music."

I return, "Then is it worship that you are doing when the music is of your choosing, or are you just feeling good?"

They didn't understand me. But that's OK.

Worship to me is about service not about feelings.  It is hard to think about the word in a modern Western mindset because we are not encouraged to worship anyone.

So, think back to a time when there were kings and queens ruling the world.  Worship is a monarchical term--It's from the world of all powerful rulers.

A subject was to worship a king.  He would do this in several ways.  First, he would serve the king to provide him with a great bounty or victory.  Second, in the king's presence, the subject would lower himself so the kings greatness was demonstrated.

Interesting, when you look that way, I don't see any reason that worship was about making the subject feel good.  Sure, feeling good may be a side benefit if the kingdom prospers, but the king was still the one who decided if the subject was to receive any benefit at all.  The subject just served.

Music may be part of the worship of a king.  For those who are gifted, the king may offer a ministry of music.  Songs being powerful motivators may be part of the gathering of the subjects but the song would certainly be chosen by the king, not those gathering.

I can't find a single verse in the scripture that connect worship with music.  You know, something like, "David worshiped God by playing his favorite songs."  There are examples of wonderful music in both Testaments, but I wonder if it is more notable that the words used for worship mean "to pay homage" which means to pay respect.  The word for worshiper (λατρεύω) comes from a word that mean "to serve."

It doesn't sound like these terms are about me feeling good when I do it.  It sounds like the focus is always on the king.  If the focus is on God when we worship, why do we need to enjoy the music at all? If we serve a King who desires our obedience as our sacrifice isn't our obedience to His commandments the greatest worship.  And if the greatest commandment is to love God and love others isn't worship then the way we demonstrate great love to God and others?

And if someone else is hurting or lost and needs what the church has to offer, is the most loving thing to break down walls that would make them feel uncomfortable?  Perhaps our music is that thing.

So I ask one last question about worship...
Is is possible that the greatest form of worship might be when I put myself into a place where I'm completely uncomfortable, with music I can't understand and that hurts my ears, in order that I might help save a new generation of hurting people for the love of God?

I'm not sure we can call feeling good worship at all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Safely Watched

Once when my daughter was younger
I allowed her to stray

the crowded room and shiny things
and she was caught up in her world

She strayed a couple isles
Picking up shiny things

She walk away with out knowing
her distance from her safe place

I didn't want to walk away
but when I called her she didn't come

I didn't let her leave my sight
I followed her close behind

But she wasn't looking for me
She was caught up in her own desires

Freedom was fun for a moment
No one told her do not touch

But freedom can be scary
when you discover your aloneness

Her safe place had left
her freedom now confusion

I didn't go to her right away
I allowed her to know her emptiness

That fear I'm sure will reminder
that her place is with her father

I'm not sure her exact emotions
they flooded her face so quickly

At first it seem confusion
then more a bit like pain

The glitter than had drawn her attention
was now meaningless and a barrier

She began to search for me in the vastness
she looked in the faces of others passing by

But strangers were not safe
It was her father she desired

She her confusion turn to pain
she called out to her father

With out delay my heart broke
and my desire was for her

So I stepped out from behind the shiny things
Swooped her into my arms

"I was her sweetheart
I'll never leave you"

"I was afraid daddy, I need you
Don't leave me again"

Our love is now focus
her desires more pure

But what I'm learning
what I'm wondering

Was that my child there
that day?

What I'm thinking, what I'm learning is
that that wasn't my daughter that day

The child lost whose was drawn by glitter
wasn't a daughter at all

It was me and I was my Father
and I was always safely watched

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why I blog

Recently, I read that a blog can be about one of two people: yourself or the reader.  I read a bunch of blogs and have found that generally true.  My blog--this one--is about me and for me.  I started it to communicate my otherwise unspoken thoughts.  It's sort of a journal.

So A World that I'm Partly Made of  is at its core a journal of thoughts intended for me as I think them through.  It is a reflection on the world from my point of view.

On the other hand, I could have written these thoughts down in a journal book stored in my desk.  But I haven't. My blog is public because maybe there is someone out there that will benefit from knowing how I think, understanding my values, and reading links to others who help me to form my thoughts.

So, if you're reading this, you're welcome to poke around, comment or leave as you like.  Since it is about me and for me, it will be raw, rough and maybe a little one sided.  I don't have it proof read which is dangerous for a dyslexic writer.  I do hope it will also be honest and insightful, and I hope that seeing things through my point of view helps you to understand your world better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Does God like Christmas?

This time of year I get what we call the I-wanters.  That is, I see all the good sales, and I want things.

Last weekend, I stopped in the ATT store to see how much the iPhone was going for these days.  It was nice, and slightly more than I had budgeted for my birthday gift.  Since I have a December birthday, maybe I could talk Stef into bundling it with my Christmas gift.  Yeah! That's a good idea.

So....I talked to the man about the iPhone, only to find out it was the only phone in the store that required a $30-per-month data plan.  Now the $200 phone would cost me... oh... around $560 for the year over what I'm currently paying for mobile service.

So, being a smart guy, I asked the guy, "Are there any phones that you'd recommend over the iPhone.

His eye's light up as he guided me across the room to show me the new Blackberry Bold. At only $400 this phone has high rating in just about everything over the iPhone. 

Oh, it looked so nice, and there was an option of a $100 rebate.  I'll I'd have to do is order the dataplan for 3 months.  Let's see, $30 data plan times 3 equals $90.  That's $10 saving and i get to use the super fast G3 network for 3 months.  Certainly, if Stef could see the 3G's blazing speed, she'd want me to have it.  "Oh," and he added, "This phone has one of the best turn-by-turn GPS system in the world.  It even beats those that they put into Lexus and BMW cars. That's only a $10-per-month service charge."

"WOW!  I love GPS! That could only be so cooooooool!"  And it could be my birthday present/Christmas present.  Now I want it, and I want it BAD!  Let's ignor that fact that this phone would only cost me $400-$100 rebate+$90 for the first 3 monts of data service + in reality $30 times 9 because I really want the phone for the cool data feature + $120 for the monthly GPS service.  I could have this baby for only $780. Only $650 dollars more than I had budgeted for birthday and Christmas gifts.

You see, we are trying to downplay gifts this year.  We don't need stuff, but as Seth Godin points out in his bog Hungry, its the marketer's job to make me want stuff.  It's my job to realize I don't need it.

The video at the top of this unusually long post is Jon Foreman performing his song Instead.  It is a lovely reworking of the sentiments in Is. 1:11-17 or maybe Amos 5:21-24.  When it comes to Christmas, I'm never really happy.

I wonder if it is because this season has become on of those festivals that Isaiah and Amos write about.  Could God really be pleased with me when I celebrate the coming of his Son with buying myself a cell phone or buying my child a new 50-inch flatscreen TV?  Maybe I'm not that far out--maybe it is just the Wii @ $400 that I'm getting my kid to set along side the PS3 and X-box?  Or whatever else it might be that is cause me to have the I-wanters?  Can those I-wanter be what God hates when they overcome my attention on justice and righteous living?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lost is coming and this the Fray video is cool

I'm a Lost fan. Have been since I was hooked in Season 2. Now, I'm impatiently waiting for the penultimate season.  Enjoy this video.

Lost Friday nights start at my house in January. (I know Lost is on Wednesday, but with all I have to do on Wednesday it's easier to wait until Friday.) Beside, that's when we can get people together.

These are my values--What are yours?

Our staff talked about values today. You know, the attitudes deep inside you that guide your actions--the reasons your do what you do. I've thought a lot about strengths and personalities lately, but have forgotten values. I want to thank Jay Williams for taking us through this interesting workshop.

Here are my core values. I hope to follow up with the why behind each.

Family: Family are the people that are closest to you. In a family, you can be who God designed you to be without fear, scorn or judgment. Family loves you for who you are, unconditionally, but always challenges each member to grow and respect norms and authority so the the whole family benefits.

This usually includes those related to you, it doesn't have to be limited to those people and sometimes those people don't act too much like family.

I'm fortunate, I find this value in Stef, Moriah and Elie. I have found it in my family of my childhood, but we aren't together too often any more. I'm beginning to find aspects of it with some of the people of our church. That's what I love most about Friday nights in my house.

Creativity: Creativity is the ability to think bigger and dream beyond current reality. To be fully creative, those big dreams must be communicated to others, and challenge them to also think bigger and dream beyond reality.

I value creativity. I am not by nature creative in the sense that I can't sing, play an instrument, paint, build, draw, or write particularly well. Those are all tools for expressing creativity. To be a good drawer, doesn't make you creative. It is just medium for those who are creative to express their thoughts.

I'm still searching for my best medium of creativity.

Freedom: Freedom is the ability to choose--according to your free will--that which God designed you to do, say or write.

Freedom is for anarchy. Anarchy is freedom only for the strongest as the weak are push to oblivion. Freedom is I can choose according to my will and design in such a way that you can better choose according to your will and design.

We exercise freedom in our home. I think it is leading my daughters to be more creative people.

These are my core values as I discovered this week. I have other values too--teaching and peace are certainly secondary--but the first three values stand out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Living with dyslexia follow up

Quickly, no one seemed to be able to figure the sign out. 

Before I say what the sign really said, I want to be clear, that I have only ever thought that the Screwy Curve was because we were driving up a mountain road.  No other conotation have come to my mind.

Screwy Curve, when scrambled and on 'e' removed makes the phrase....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

living with dyslexia (1)

I have the curse(1) or joy of living(3) with(4) dyslexia. Dyslexia is a reading disorder in which the brain mixes stuff up. At least(5,6) that's what some experts(7-9) say. Others say everyone(10) mixes stuff up; those who claim(11) the disorder just(12-14) aren't trying(15) hard enough.

Obviously, it is a curse, because it can be really frustrating(16) mixing things up. For example(17-20), I've counted 20 times already that I've used the back space to correct mistyped word. I also struggle with(21) vowels(22-25) sounds. I really can't tell the difference(26) between a short "i" and a short "a".

As for not trying hard enough(26-30), I've reread short papers 6 or more times and still have people point out errors(31) pointed out on first reading by others (usually my wife(32)).

Ok, that sounds frustrating(33), so how can dyslexia(34) be a joy? Well, I can read some really funny things at times. Of course, no one else gets the joke, but I'm OK with laughing alone(35).

One memorable dyslexic(36,37) moment came on a road trip with(38) a college friend. Driving down a country road, I clearly saw(38) this sign.

Can you guess what my college buddy(39,40) read on the sign?

Note: Numbers(41) in ( ) indicate times I actually(42) backspaced because(43) I mistyped a word.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Start making a new culture

Andy Crouch asks there questions in his book Culture Making There is a great video from Q where he reveals those questions.

The Questions:
  • What are you cultivating?
  • What are you creating?
  • Who are you co-creators?

Cultivating is taking something in culture and making it better, more productive, or valuable for today.

Creating is making something new out of nothing?

Co-creators are those who help you to make culture anew.  They start as a small group (3), move to a larger group (12), and then to a community (120).  (Sounds similar to Seth Godin's Tribes, doesn't it.)

Answering these question:
  • I'm cultivating a new way to do family ministry at Grace Point.
  • I'm not sure what I'm creating just yet, but it will be something to help connect families. 
  • I have a few circles of 3, sometimes they connect, but not always.  I think the most important two people pertaining to what I'm cultivating are Nate and Cassandra - my youth and children's directors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy

Two Christmases ago, we started giving our children a gift every year that they could make a donation to a charity of their choice. I love the idea of the Advent Conspiracy and have been encourage to give more this year than before. Sure the economy is down and you are already thinking of cutting back.

Here's the deal. If you cut back 75% of what your child would receive in a normal year, are you really cutting on their needs or is it still want items. If you give to something like Blood:Water Mission, you're giving a child fresh water, a much needed need.

Watch the video and join me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The joy of being part skunk

Johnson is a boring name. I asked my dad where it came from. He said once asked his grandmother was his grandfather was.

Her response, "He was a skunk."

I don't mind being part skunk. It reminds me that I'm not perfect, but my Father is.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who are the greatest heretics of the church?

Who are the greatest heretics of the Christian faith?  My first three choices are Jesus, Martin Luther and John Amos Comenius.  These people all were considered heretics by the religious institution of their day, but did huge things to form the Christian faith.

Any others?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My favorites

Here's a quick list of my favorite blogs (as of today 'cause it changes).

Stef is getting to be a great blogger... 

Shaun Groves writes some thought provoking things and is connect with one of my favorite ministries, Compassion International...

 Seth Godin challenges me to think big and to create...

Out of Ur looks at church leadership issues in a new light...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Is Effort lost in Christian busyness?

Seth Godin is an incredibly brilliant marketer.  Being on who doesn't like the materialistic world we find ourselves in, it may seem odd that I would read a blog by someone who made it big helping people sell things.  The truth is, recently, I've learned that we are all selling something and marketing is more about selling ideas than products.  Being a pastor is about selling ideas in many ways.

I really liked Seth's entry on Is effort a myth.  Take a moment to read the blog. There are two thoughts that I'd like to add.

My first thought is that Christians often down play effort giving preference to Grace or the Will of God.  It becomes a Christian version of luck.  Certainly, God's will cannot be undone.  Still, we are admonished in Scripture to put effort toward our work in Christ.  (1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1)

My second thought is that I love the exercises Seth gives.  How about adding a Bible reading plan and prayer to the 120 minutes each day.  Notice also that a day of doing nothing is a part of greater effort.  Counter intuitive, but also part of God's plan.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What is our most important task at hand?

My new Children's director asked me a question that brought this question to my mind.  How much of our time should be used making healthy the people inside the church and how much should we use reaching out to the community. 

I'm pretty sure that a paradigm of sitting around reading the Bible to one another until the world realizes they need Jesus won't ever work.

But I'm also questioning the paradigm that we should have most of our energy outward bringing new people into the church.  Can we actually make disciples when the house that we bring people into is out of order?

So, what is the City on the Hill's most important task and how do we ballance the tasks at hand?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dad's braggin's

Once I told Elie that I'd give her a quart of Rita's Water Ice (if you don't know what that is come visit PA and I'll treat) if she made a goal with her head.  Anticipating a strong redirection to the upper 90, I was not sure what to do last weekend when Elie came to claim her quart.  You see, she and the keeper both went down in front of the goal.  Rather than running the risk of being too slow by getting up to kick the ball in, Elie, on all four, used her head to push it over the line.  It looked like the old party game when the person would roll a peanut with their nose. Not a great athletic feat, but creative.  Go Elie!

Today, the second surprise.  Looking back 12 years ago, Moriah was in a church Christmas program that took some Nutcracker songs and set Jesus lyrics to them.  The performance was an embarrasment.  She stood in the very front row and didn't sing a note.  I promised her I wouldn't tell what she did instead, but it had something to do with a finger and a feature in the center of her face.

Today, however, she learned that she as made the chorus at her school that will be singing in the Pennsylvania Ballet's preformance of the Nutcracker.  What an honor. She promises she'll sing this time.  Go Moriah!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Does choice equal relevance?

Does more choice bring more relevance?  It might seem so since what is relevant to me might not be so to you.  Still Tim Manners, the author of Relevance: Making Stuff That Matters doesn't seem to think that's always the case.  He points out that Stew Leonard’s, a grocer in Connecticut and New York, has found a niche by eleminating choice.  
One of the many things that makes Stew Leonard’s so innovative is that it only carries something like 800 items, compared to tens of thousands at the typical supermarket. They took the time to figure out which products were most relevant to their shoppers and got rid of everything else. As a result, their profits per square foot completely eclipse those of traditional supermarkets.  "Elements of Relevance" in the Sept/Oct edition of the online magizine The Hub
I can understand that. Last week I was in the local Acme and found myself stairing at walls and walls of product.  So many choices that, even though I could have used a few items, I was so overwhelmed that I shot in, grabbed the two things I needed and left.  Even picking out the two items was difficult because of the choices.  Good thing the tag "sale items" because I bought those.

It seems to me that church try to be relevant to more and more people by offering more and more choices?  So here's my question, is that making us more relevant or just busier? Does it improve community or just flood us with community choices?  If it is making things too busy, how do we go about limitting or cutting the overstock?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Message to my daughters (and the rest of the children)

I was listening to U2 on my way to the church this morning.  The song The Original of the was on my stereo.  What a beautiful song.  

Bono's lyrics are almost always artistic and complex, but I think I hear in this song a message to young people.  It is a message that I fully embrace and would like to pass along to my daughters.  Here are the lyrics found at
Baby slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart

I’ll give you everything you want
Except the thing that you want
You are the first one of your kind

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
And I kneel ‘cos I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got 
And I want nothing that you’re not

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it

Some things you shouldn’t get too good at
Like smiling, crying and celebrity
Some people got way too much confidence baby

I’ll give you everything you want
Except the thing that you want
You are the first one of your kind

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ‘cos I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got 
And I want nothing that you’re not

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it, no
And you’ll never be alone
Come on now show your soul
You’ve been keeping your love under control

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it

Everywhere you go you shout it
Oh my my

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ‘cos I want you some more
I want you some more, I want you some more…
The origin of the species goes back to Adam and Eve in the Genesis account.  In that passage, God offered the whole of the Garden to His children, except the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The result when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit was shame, particularly shame of nakedness.  

To be naked is to be vulnerable so Adam and Eve clothed themselves.  

Youth is a difficult time of moving from one vulnerability to the next.  To hide insecurities, many youth weave a clothing of another sort.  That is they create a disingenuous or false personality.  Bono is warning his children of this trap.

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it, no
And you’ll never be alone
Come on now show your soul
You’ve been keeping your love under control

Rather than hiding who you are because you don't think it is good enough, be confident in who God made you to be.  Don't be shy about that.  God will not leave you alone to deal with it.

When you know and trust who you are; When you are confident in the personality God gave you; When you allow your soul to be alive and free; then you can demonstrate real love.  I think God wants us to be free in that way.  

Teen years are the most difficult.  Don't use them to learn to be false.  Use them to learn to be the best you that God intended you to be.  Each of you is an original of the species.

The video for this song is wacky, but cool...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why contentment isn't a goal.

I was reading a post on Roger von Oech's Creative Think blog.  In the post he asks "Why happiness is the absence of striving for happiness?" I'm trying to answer that question and here is the best thing I can come up with...

If your goal is contentment, you will always be shy of that goal.  To not be content is to be discontent.

Prehaps a better goal for acheiving personal happiness is to realize that it's not about you.  Then spend time working to acheive the well being of others.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Why evangelicals should be more careful with politics

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Obviously, when McCain picked Sarah Palin for his VP running mate, his choice help opened the door to an exciting general election. I think it is the most exciting of my life (not counting the post-vote excitement of 2000).

Many Christian Republican have had a renewed excitement with the addition of a young, conservative, eloquent Palin. And with good reason.

However, I' don't share the majority opinion about the strength of her speech. While watching on Wednesday evening, I became disquieted be her tactics and the responses she solicited.

Did she demonstrate that she could be a strong candidate? Of course. Was her speech energizing to the base? Absolutely. Was is giving in a manner that is worthy of a Christian speaker? That's the part that troubles me. Or more so, I'm bothered that so many Christian I have spoken to haven't been bothered by the same things that I troubled me.

What bothered me about her discourse? I just don't think the image of the pit-bull Christian is one that our God would be please with. One person I talked to about this issue agreed with me to a point, but then said, "this is politics. It is necessary to cut the other people down to make you point."

What does the Bible say about that kind of politics? I think Micah 6:8 gives us good guidance here as it says that God's will is that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with him.

Often I hear justice lifted up as reason we have to defeat liberalism. Maybe there is truth in that. But I wonder if we should re-read Micah to discover the kind of justice that we are to have.

More importantly, this passage tell the believer how they should live in all circumstances. We are to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly.

Pit-bulls (at least as they are stereotyped) don't walk humbly. They attack violently and indiscriminately. They kind of sharp, sarcastic humor that Palin used to attack her opponent was not merciful, but divisive and destructive to the human soal.

Palin's comment claiming that Obama "is worried that someone won't read [a terrorist] their rights" was a ridiculous example of misplaced justice. If we are a just nation, particularly through the Christian leaders of this country, we will place the civil right of all people above convenience of our prosecution. We can't assume that everyone suspected of being an Al Qaeda terrorist is guilty of any crime. Just leaders wouldn't laugh at the fact that their opponents are for upholding justice through civil rights, even the rights of non-citizens.

I was uncomfortable with Palin's speech. She has great potential, and I'm hopeful that going forward she will put her responsibility to follow the will of our God ahead of her desire to get the Republican ticket elected. It isn't that she has to be the pit bull to win. Rather she should demonstrate and the voters recognize that our God is capable of bringing the right people into power. Christian voters should be looking for someone who in their campaign and in their lives are acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly.

By the way, this is not an endorsement of Obama. Rather a call to Christian politicians and voters to act according to the will of God, not just toward particular ideology.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Needs vs. wants and desires

Dan Pink recently blogs about Charlie Rose's interview with Bob Lutz, General Motor's head of product development. The subject of the interview was the design of the Chevy Volt. The Volt is GM's hope for the future. A car that requires no gasoline (at least up to 40 miles).

I thought the interview was interesting from a design sense, but one comment caught my ear. Lutz talked a lot about car design being important for sales since car are often status symbols for the drivers. He went on to say that often people ask him how GM is going to meet the needs of the customers. His response the needs of the customers can be met by picking up a two year old coup at the used car dealer. To sell cars, GM needs to meet the wants and desires of the customer.

From a Christian standpoint, can we be throwing $30 to $50K at wants and desires? Just a thought.

Anyway, I think my needs are being met just find with my 10 year old Camry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How to save a life

I might be behind the times a couple year, but I just heard the song "How to Save a Life" this week after downloading it to my Tivo (Music Choice). I think it is great. I don't know anything about The Fray, but I did find their page for this song, HOWTOSAVEALIFE.COM.

Whose life are we saving in this song? It seems to me we are saving our children (broadly all children). Isaac Slade's steps to saving a life seem 3 fold: (1) Talk and list; (2) be the parent and lead; and (3) be forgiving and allow room for them to seek repentance.

Watch the video. It's even more telling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Tony Dungy's book Quiet Strength

I just finished reading Quiet Strength with a group of men I meet with regularly. Here is my review as I posted it on my virtual bookshelf.

Nice story. Love his faith. I think he place a little too much of his on field success on the fact that he has faith and God wanted him to succeed. Not everyone with strong faith is going to see "success" at the same level. I'd hope no one would doubt their faith because they never get to that level.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One thing I've learned...

Over the last 20 years is begin creative is usually better than knowing the facts. OK, these things aren't mutually exclusive, and I know that fact-based people won't likely understand my point, but here's why it is important.

It took my about 17 or 18 years to learn one of the things I love most about Stef is that she is creative. It all came out in a couple photography classes she took, but I see it all over the place now.

On thing I've learned in the last couple years of my life is that too have a creative streak.

The problem--Both of us grew up in worlds where being factual, being accurate, and knowing how to do things right is what makes a good person. As people who want to be good we both focused on those things that were factual, accurate and done right.

When we focus on those things, I think we as a couple become boring and uptight.

I'm glad that we are both finding ways to exercise our creativity. I'm sure the next 20 years of marriage will be much more exciting as we loosen the grip of the cold hard facts of life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why I've lost interest in the MLS

A few years ago, if began watching soccer. It began with going to a couple of women's professional games back when the Philadelphia Charge were around. Then I began watching MLS games, mostly on the internet because they offered all the games for free. I liked the MLS back then and found it fun to watch the games. I liked some of the players on several teams: Jaime Moreno, Brian Chin, Taylor Twellman, etc. Since I used to live in Utah I began watching RSL when they joined the league.

Something has happened since then, and I'm loosing interest in the league.

First, Beckham happened. I don't dislike him, but it seems that they only show LA games since he moved to the US.

Next, the league began charging for me to watch games. I'm cheep. I'll admit it. I don't have money to spend so I can sit with my laptop trying to make sense of a game played on a 2.5" by 3" compressed video screen.

Finally, as many people told me back then, I found out that European soccer was better. I got Gol TV and the Fox Soccer Channel and found out that there is a huge quality of play difference. I wish those channels would show games that didn't involve Chelsea, ManU, Real Madrid and Barca, but if I watch long enough, I see all the teams I like.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Liverpool does this season. They've picked up some big names.

I used to watch the MLS, but I don't have much reason to do so anymore.

Exciting things to come

I'm starting today two count-downs.

The most important is that there are 10 days left until Stef and I celebrate our 20th anniversary. Stef has been posting some thoughts about our first 20 years together. When I feel clever, maybe I will too.

The second countdown is related...
In just 5 days my vacation starts. We're actually going away (sort of). We're going to level Moriah at home while Elie is in Maryland with a friend. We're going to Baltimore's Inner Harbor--something we've wanted to do for some time now. We actually only get one night there, but it is a night. :) I made reservations at the Inner Harbor Renaissance Hotel using We got a good deal.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Full review of Intuitive Leadership

I just finished reading Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel. I've hit on some point about this book before. In final analysis, I'd say that this may not have been the best book for me to have read. It's not a bad book, but it left me wanting some things that it didn't deliver and with a few things that I didn't really need.

I liked the fact that Keel poses a different kind of leadership book from those analytical, linear books that are so often published. The problem is it left me wanting something that I'm not so sure I can have: freedom within an established organization to create in the way Keel prescribes. There are some good principles that can be applied to established churches, and I'll address those later, but it will really be difficult to get away with pushing those principles beyond a basic level.

While those principles are there and as exciting as they may be, I also found myself frustrated that the creative church movement has to tie itself so closely to certain things that to me are negatives. How many times does Keel refer to the great value of the monastics and escaping to monastic communities? Monastics, to me, are a sign of failure in Church. Some monastics were running from a very broken church; others were running from a very broken world. One could argue that we have in North America both a broken church and a broken world. Still, I don't think escaping to an experiential community is at all the answer that the Bible gives us. I would instead love to hear creative people discovering God in creative ways among the broken piece of both church and world.

I like Keel's points of creativity that should be kindled in the church: in leadership, in worship, in theology. I love the thought of creative people taking leadership of the church. We are still stuck in a world were safe leadership is considered godly. Wouldn't God rather leaders push the envelope? Isn't he in control in the end?

I love the thought of the church living in paradox and theology being more a matter of "I don't know (yet)" than a fix system to never deviate from. I think our practices and services should highlight this paradox.

I also love Keel's desire to get rid of the old idols of the church. I know that I am tempted by the idol of ministry that he talks about. Many people use the church and symbols of God as idols just as the Keel point out that the Ark was used before the Israelites.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that Keel doesn't create some new idols along the way. To me monasticism is often an idol of experience and community. Similarly, I think if creativity for the sake of creativity is not kept in check, the thrill of doing something new can also become an idol.

In the end, I wonder if this is a book that should not have been written. Keel pronounces great frustration over other church movements that are successful and then copied because of there success. He says that he doesn't want people to copy him instead consider their own context. That's good, but I think human nature and the nature of leaders is to copy that which is written up as a success. Heck, didn't Hybels say in his book Rediscovering Church that people should try to copy the Willow Creek model? Still, copying Willow Creek seemed to me to be Keel's biggest struggle with the Evangelical Church, or at least its leaders.

I'm not sure how to get this message out, but when a leader writes a book describing how he found success, people are going to try to copy. Then again, maybe leadership is about causing success, and, after all, are there really that many intuitive leaders out there? I guess time will tell.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How bad is our economy?

The other day I had a conversation with a leader from another church. In the course of the conversation I suggested that the US hasn't done enough to help poverty worldwide. (I was particularly speaking of evangelicals in the US.) His response was that the US couldn't help others because our economy is too bad right now.

That raised 2 questions in my mind. First, how good would the economy have to be before we could help others around the world. I wasn't speaking specifically about the last couple years when talking about our history of poverty relief. If anything, it seems we've picked up our rate of contribution with efforts like 1000 Wells Project and Blood:water mission, two movements started by popular musicians.

The second question that I have to ask about our economy is How bad is it really? Sure, I can tell you stories of people I know loosing their jobs. Yes, homes are selling slowly and for less money that a couple years ago (still much more than say 5 years ago). But, if one movie can bring in $400-million in just 17 days, is our economy really that bad?

It took $4 per gallon for Americans to begin to rethink driving habits, and still they're only down less than 5%. People are still eating out and kids are still playing in travel sports leagues that require packing the SUV a couple times per week to drive great distances to play a kid's game.

Our economy isn't as fat as it has been, but it is still fat enough. Most Americans still have more they could give. Most American church has room in their ministry to help those suffering with no food, no medicine around the world.

I'm afraid that I'm as much to blame for this, but I'm working on that. Join me?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why jargon is dangerous

We all get caught up in the jargon of our particular communities. The Christian world is flooded with words that make sense to those inside the community, but are confusing to outsiders.

This morning while watching Good Morning America Weekend, Kate (whose last name was never given 'cause I guess you're supposed to know that she's one of the co-anchors on the show) was traveling Africa with former president Clinton.

In the course of the report, Kate actually said, "they wouldn't allow us to shoot the former president on the airplane."

I'm confused. Were they more open to shooting Clinton on the ground? I'd hope not. Sounds like it would be a case of a reporter becoming the story.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 3)

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 2)

Of the last week I've been writing comments on the 6 lesson from the Adventures of Johnny Bunko: the Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Dan Pink. To reiterate, Pink doesn't specifically write from a world view reflecting the teachings of the Bible, but I think that his point correspond to some biblical principles. Today I will complete the final two lessons. Allow me to list all six again:
  • There is no plan
  • Think strengths, not weaknesses
  • It's not about you
  • Persistence trumps talent
  • Make excellent mistakes
  • Leave an imprint
Make excellent mistakes. Many Christians would challenge this point. We serve a perfect God; we aught not strive for anything less that perfection, or Mistakes are sins, they might say. I disagree with this perfectionistic thinking. God doesn't expect us to be without imperfection, rather he makes us perfect.

On the other hand, we see many examples of places in the scripture where God challenges people to be stretched beyond their abilities. In that, mistakes happen, but he is faithful to guide us through those mistakes. Job made mistakes of being frustrated, nearly giving up on God. God still held him up and honored him. Moses was weak at times, not wanting to represent Israel and challenging a Egyptian to his death. David made mistakes. Yet, God holds both David and Moses as great leaders. Peter, who was Jesus' right hand man, was always sticking his foot in his mouth as he tried to think beyond his capabilities. Yet, Jesus challenged him with leading the early church.

Sure God punished appropriately Moses, David and Peter for their sinful or faithless acts, but he strengthend them to continue forward. Mistakes came mostly as they were challenged to expand their leadership and their creativity. Think about it. When Peter stuck his foot in his mouth, he was the only disciple that was willing to speak at all. He was being a leader testing new ideas.

Leave and imprint. This one is clear to me. Leaving an imprint is a matter of your legacy. Obviously, as followers of Christ, we need to leave a legacy that points people back to Jesus. If you're a parent, the imprint you should leave is the life you live in Christ before your children. If you're a neighbor, the imprint is how you love your neighbor unconditionally. If you work in an office, it is your integrity and the way you put other's needs first. (See Lesson # 3.)

I guess you can leave an imprint by chasing money. Howard Hughes did. But wouldn't you rather leave on like Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, James Hudson Taylor (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), or Everett Swanson (Compassion International). Not everyone will have the opportunity to be on a stage as big as these folks, but you can make a similar impact by living your life for the poor or to help others know God grace personally.

Leaving an imprint is about having a goal. Lesson #1 was that we don't have a plan, that's something different. We don't plan the end, but we work to make the lives of others better that the world will be a better place for our being here. I think that's the kind of imprint that God would have us make.

I think the 6 Lessons of Johnny Bunko are excellent teaching points for people who want to know how to serve God better. My hope is that all people can learn to use the tools that they have to serve God and make the world a better place.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Play vs. Work | Accidental Creative

Play vs. Work | Accidental Creative

This is a good challenge to me to keep the right perspective in my work and to focus on the things God has prepared me to do. I think work looses its play when we are too busy trying to make others pleased with what we are doing rather than doing what we are driven to do. When we follow God in our vocation, I think we should find it so rewarding that it crosses the line from work to play.

I need to constantly re-discover that line in my ministry.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Church leadership and experimenting

I'm a slow reader. Slower yet during the busy weeks of VBS, soccer camp and adventure camp. (Welcome to my July; 3 out of 4 weeks are in some of the most time intensive programs I have.) While I am a slow reader, I am usually working on a book. Right now, I'm chugging through Tim Keel's Intuitive Leadership which I reported first earlier this week.

I like the point that Keel is trying to make and how it differs from so many leadership books I've read over the years. He's telling Christian leaders to experiment rather than imitate. I don't like imitations. I think the Church (universal) should be bolder than that. I like to try new things. He uses the free flowing experimentation of a jazz musician for an analogy, but I think any art form would do.

My question is how does he identify a successful experiment? I don't think it should be tested by the appeal to the masses. Hannah Montana appeals to the masses but is lousy art in the like of the Back Street Boys, Brittney Spears or so many other pop artists. Similarly, I don't think it should be tested by the experts. That would be too modern according to Keel's assessment.

So how should it be tested? I hope I learn he position on this before the end of the book.

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 2)

A World that I'm Partly Made of: A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

This is my second installment about Dan Pink's manga comic book about career planning. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is a comic book written to with 6 lessons to help the young (or old) career minded person to understand their search for the right path in a different way. In part 1, I reviewed the first two lessons of JB and how they relate to Biblical principles. In part two, I'll continue with the middle to lesson.

I must remind readers that there is no evidence that Pink has a particular world view. Still, I think that Pink understands the needs of humans, particularly to be creative, and in his understanding human, I see some principles based in scripture that should be highlighted. These principles are important for every teen, college student, parent or employee to understand.

To review, the 6 lessons of Johnny Bunko are:
· There is no plan
· Think strengths, not weaknesses
· It's not about you
· Persistence trumps talent
· Make excellent mistakes
· Leave an imprint
I'll focus on the middle two lessons (in bold) in this post.

It's not about you. This should be the most obviously Christian principle. Jesus makes it clear that life is not about us; it’s ultimately about God. And if life is about serving God, we are to serve other's needs ahead of our own needs.

The Great Commandments, to love God and to love your neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), are Jesus clear directive that life isn't about yourself, but about serving God through others. It's hard to find a point in scripture bring the point that we are not to live for our own needs yet, too often we are caught in that trap that we set for ourselves.

God give people freedom, and that freedom can be used for serving selfish desires, but Paul makes it clear that serving selfish needs is sinful behavior. Serving others in love is God hope for our freedom (Galatians 5:13). It makes sense to me that if we are serving others and, therefore, in God's will, he will bless us.

In some post in the Johnny Bunko blog, I get the feeling that we are to use serving others as service to ourselves. I think this point can be twisted. If it is not about me, then it can be that I'm serving others in hopes that they will lift me up. Unfortunately, I've read this sort of stuff in many Christian leadership books. We don't serve others hoping that they will serve us well. We serve others (or principles) because it is right. The reward is doing what is right!

Persistence trumps talent. A few years ago, my daughters were invited to work as ball girls for the high school's girl’s soccer team. As a reward for their service, the coach gave them each one of the team's t-shirts. On the front, the shirts said, "SOUTH." On the back, the coach had printed his philosophy, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." He team went on to win the state championship that year. That was a good example for my daughters to have before them. They still wear those shirts on occasion.

Hard work is a form of persistence. Longevity is another. Sticking through a difficult situation is persistence. The book of James challenges us to consider trails as pure joy. Why? Because they develop persistence and that persistence ultimately leads to our perfection (James 1). This perfection will be fully developed when God makes all things new, but I think he develops it in this temporal world too (2 Corinthians 10:13).

I hope this information is help. I'll complete the final two lessons in the next few days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A lesson from Johnny Bunko (Part 1)

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

A few years back years back I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. I found the book so intreging that I began to develop a parenting curriculum off of some of the principles. I'm didn't get far, but plan to come back to that some day. I hope I can find the time to work on it since I think it will be pretty cool.

Over the last weekend, I ran across Dan Pink's blog. Pink, a former staff speech writer for Al Gore is not a believer as far as I can tell. Still, I think that he brings to light some serious changes in the culture and particularly in A Whole New Mind changes that will affect the readiness of young people for the future market place.

His latest work, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: the last career guide you'll ever need, is a manga illustrated story that unveils 6 lessons necessary to for a successful and meaningful career. Again, Pink doesn't write from a Christian perspective, but I think that the 6 lessons are consistent with Biblical principles that parents, youth and career people should take to heart. Pink is slowly publishing parts of the book on Johnny Bunko's blog. You can read the 6 lesson there and, at this point, the first 56 pages of the book.

I will be addressing all lessons eventually, but today I'm starting with the first two. The six lessons are.
  • There is no plan
  • Think strengths, not weaknesses
  • It's not about you
  • Persistence trumps talent
  • Make excellent mistakes
  • Leave an imprint

  • There is no plan. At first blush this doesn't seem like a Christian principle. It sounds like a young renegade's way of getting out of thinking ahead. However, it's the Boy Scouts who have the moto "be prepared." That's not a Bible verse. In fact, we are to trust God in all things and give all anxiety over in that trust. Pink doesn't mean that we don't look forward. Rather that we don't expect that we can know what the future can bring. Isn't there some story in the Bible about a man who planned to keep all his grain for the future only to find out that God called him that evening. Look at these verse too: Prov. 3:5-6; Phil. 4:6-7; Rom. 8:29-31; and 1Peter 5:7.  [Edit: See also Matthew 6:19-31 and Luke 12:13-21.]

    Particularly, I think Pink's point about making fundamental choices over instrumental choices is a Christian principle. Christians are supposed to make decisions based on God's values, not because they might lead to something better in the future.

    Think strengths, not weaknesses. Too often, we leave our jobs frustrated because we are told our limitations at work. Too often, we tell our students that they have gaping academic wholes without helping them see that they have a lot to offer. Obviously, weaknesses can become a problem in any career, but they shouldn't be the focus. Rather the Bible tells us that we should look at our strengths particularly as God gives them to us. The Bible uses the image of the body to demonstrate that every member of the church has a particular role to play, and particular gifts from God to play that role. God's point: focus on your strengths as he gives them to you, not your weaknesses. (1 Cor 12-14; Rom. 12:4-5)

    God has a plan for us, but we don't have to know it. We need to trust him to guide us day by day. God will work through our weaknesses, but he never asks us to focus on them. He want us to be the person that he created us to be. In creating us, he created our strengths and it is in those strengths we should follow God on our career path.

    Tim Keel's Intuitive Leadership

    I'm reading Tim Keel's book, Intuitive Leadership, as part of my transition plan into my role as Life Development pastor. Why? Because I've read a ton of left brained leadership books written by the likes of Maxwell, Stanley, Collins, etc. I feel it is time for me to broaden my understanding of different kinds of leadership models. I'm hoping that Keel can help me with this attempt. I'm not deep into the book yet, but so far I find that it is mostly a defense of the emergent church movement. I hope he goes beyond that.

    One interesting fact is that Keel left Denver 6 months after I arrived at Denver Seminary. He doesn't say when he graduated from the seminary but aren't too far apart in our time there. It's possible we were on campus at the same time. I have found that I relate very well to his experiences in seminary and getting started in ministry. Particularly, I can relate to his initial excitement on campus being doused the burden of all the academic requirements of the seminary. Unfortunately, I discovered that the seminary (most seminaries) wanted to live in a world where on the one hand they are as academic as any University program and on the other hand they have special requirements for life in the ministry. The result of this dichotomy was I never felt I could spend as much time thinking about things I wanted to think about or serving in ministries I wanted to serve in. Many of my friends felt similar stresses.

    I'll write more on Intuitive Leadership as I get deeper into it.

    Tim Keel's Blog

    Blogging from my phone

    More and more I don't like to bring my laptop home from the church. I just get caught up doing work.

    Too often my home computer is busy being used by others. Stef is blogging these day, Moriah Facebooks. Elie read email, stuff with silly parodies of Harry Potter, or plays games.

    Our computer is busy.

    Today, I'm testing to see how I can blog from my phone.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

    Monday, June 30, 2008

    Nelson Mandela's one regret

    Wife: Nelson Mandela has one regret -

    As part of the Mandela at 90 series,'s Robyn Curnow interviewed Machel Mandela, Nelson Mandela's wife. Interestingly, Machel mentioned one regret of the man who had arguably the greatest influence in defeating the South African policy apartheid. Alas, Nelson Mandela may be one of the world's strongest voices in the world when it comes to racial equality.

    So what posible regret would this man have? He regrets not having as much "input in the development of his children" as he'd like. In other words, Nelson Mandela, an influencer of world policy, didn't have the influence that he'd like to have in the lives of his children. In Mandela's case, he sacrificed his paternal right in fighting for civil rights, particularly as he was imprisoned for his views about the racist policies of apartheid.

    I think this is a good warning for parents. Often parents sacrifice influence over their children in seeking material things or career success. Mandela had a magnificent cause guiding him when he sacrificed his fatherly influence. I'm not sure, will owning another Lexus or making Senior VP of Money Making will seem more important when the typical father reaches his 90s.

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    How to Pick a President | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

    How to Pick a President | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

    I whole heartedly agree with this way to pick a president. Forget the issues this election year. Look at the heart of the person you're electing. It's hard to cut that deeply in the lives of these folks since the media just wants to talk about the surface issue and anything that can cause the next controversy. Still, work hard to see the heart avoiding a bias that is formed in party politics. I think that's what Jesus would have us do in light of how he treated those he encountered. Heck, he usually chastised those that held the "right" position on issues of his day (i.e., the Pharisees) and welcomed those that the churchy type people would have announced to be wrong on the issues.

    I'm not saying that I know that one candidate is more virtuous than the other. I don't know who I'd pick on that criteria at this point, but I'm watching.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    I never heard of Utah Philips....

    But it seems he understood the dangers of being a child. I heard part of this quote on NPR today as they gave his eulogy.
    You're about to be told one more time that you're America's most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources? Have you seen them strip mine? Have you seen a clear-cut in a forest? Have you seen a polluted river? Don't ever let them call you a valuable natural resource! They're gonna strip mine your soul! They're gonna clear-cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit, unless you learn to resist, cause the profit system follows the path of least resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked! Hmph!

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    YouTube - Rich Mullins - Here In America

    YouTube - Rich Mullins - Here In America

    I found this link on Facebook today. Yes it is now an old song, but it's still good. As I listened to it I thought that it addresses my patriotism as well as any song I know of. I'll leave at that. Listen to it and let me know if I'm too patriotic or maybe not enough. Anyhow, I'm glad that the holy King of Israel loves me.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Is the Church Pagan?

    Is the Pastorate Pagan? | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

    I've not read this book, just the review on Leadership Journal's website. I'm not sure what to make of it. I don't disagree with the fact that so much of what we do in the church was introduced through the pagan world. A lot of it through the union of church and state brought about by Constantine. But what can we or should we do about that? Is it right to continue to practice things introduced through the pagan world? Is it possible to eliminate those practices completely?

    Think about it. Easter, which we will celebrate this week, is in fact, a pagan introduction. Of course the resurrection of Christ is purely Christian, but the way we go about this week, even the name Easter were introduced through pagan culture.

    Of course, we still continue to adopt pagan practices. One might lift up the rock sound of our music and even the introduction of secular songs into worship services as a modern pagan practice. But, don't be too holy and claim that's why I prefer the hymns. Many of them were rooted in bar songs of their day too.

    I think we do need to be careful not to make the church too pagan. I think we could even go back on some of our practices that were begun by mixing paganism with Christian faith. But I'm not sure how and to what extent we can do this.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Southern Baptist leaders go green - I hope many Christian join them

    Southern Baptist leaders go green - Climate Change-

    It's good to see that more evangelicals are waking up to the realization that as Christians we should be leading the world on stewardship issues. I'm not saying that we should buy lock stock and barrel the science of global warming. But I will say that it is obvious that humans effect the earth, are using too many resources and need to change our patterns before it is too late. What is too late? I don't know what that will be. Global Warming forecaster, that is the scientist who are describing that increase in fossil fuel consumption has having a negative effect on the climate, seem to indicate that within 20 to 30 years. Some even say we have already past the point of no return.

    I'm not willing to accept that argument in its fullest, but I still think that Christians need to take not of serious stewardship issues that are pointed out in the science of global warming and other ecological fields. We cannot deny that our planet is becoming more polluted. Even this morning another story shows that even our pharmaceutical habits are cause water pollution. We have to be more careful with this earth that God has given us watch over.

    This is a critically moral issue. God gave us stewardship over this earth. That means that it is His earth, not ours. It means that we have to live on this earth with a realization that billions of other humans live on it too. We must protect this earth as if it and its resources will be used by billions of people over billions of year. We cannot claim that we own certain parts and therefore we have the right to use then as we want. We have to take a look at what is good for a greater number of people. We have to look at what is good for the environment as it relates to the future of this planet that God has us protecting. While the right to be free is a Christian doctrine, that does not mean that all freely conceived ventures go without examination.

    Christians as a group are typically pro-life, meaning against abortion. I would hope that we would broaden our understanding of the term pro-life, and become advocates for those who are loosing their lives because of industrial pollution. I would hope that we would take seriously the issues of global warming that may be threatening many lives by causing prolonged drought in place like Africa (or even the western US). Just because the science isn't clear to us right now, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be listening to those scientist, and if we are more serious, raising up people, Christian men and women, to be leaders in the environmental fields to study climate change, water pollution or what ever else may effect this globe that God has charged us with the obligation of protecting.

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Because I Pause

    My wife is blogging now. Check out her stuff at Because I Pause. She's just getting started but has some good stuff.

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Take it from an expert

    It may look glamorous, but it will get you no where.

    ‘Lay off the dope,’ Keith Richards advises - Music-

    Irony and faith

    I think that faith is ironic. Without irony, there is no mature faith. We can't prove faith, yet faith is the strongest of motivators. God created a Law that separates people from himself, but through faith consequences for the violations of Law are null. As Jesus is God who became flesh, the religious of Jesus' day were his worst enemy. I dare say the religious of today are often the worst enemy of faith and legalism set a wall that drives so many away from the God of grace.

    I propose that real, solid, growing faith is riddled with irony. Conversely, black and white faith, is stagnant or dead. If things are black and white in your life, then perhaps, your faith has gotten stuck in the mud. I know this happens to me. But it happens in times of weakness. Ironically, when I a weakest, is when I feel the strongest. When I don't feel that I have anything left to give, that is when God is most able to work on my faith and work through my ministry.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    No Second Turns

    I was just watching the kindergardeners in my church play games during our club night. The didn't quite get the goal of the very simple relay race. One line of boys continued to take turn after turn even though they were only supposed to go once then sit down. It took a while, but one boy noticed the other teams were "winning" because they actually finished the race. He began to shout to his teammates, "No second turns guys. No second turns or we'll loose."

    They didn't care. They wanted second turns. It was more important to them that they get to go again that for their team to win.

    As a adult that doesn't make sense. We want to win. But in reality there are many things that we take "turns" beyond what we need or should even when it hurts the bigger body. We drive a bigger car than we need because we can, and we don't think about the effects on gas prices, the environment or the socio-economics of the middle east. We own bigger house. We demand more from our government or our spouse. We do these, because, to us, we don't see that we are causing our team to loose. We only know that we want more for ourselves.

    I sure the kindergarteners will learn how to run relays. I hope that more adults learn how to live for the bigger community.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Conflicting thoughts?

    I'm working on two potentially conflicting thoughts that I think both could be valuable guides to the way I approach my ministry and my life. The first comes from my father several years back. "It's better to be a big fish in a small pond than to be an ordinary fish in the ocean." The second comes from a discussion with a friend. It is the mantra of the advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy, "Fail Harder."

    I'm not sure how to reconcile these right now. I connect to both of them, but can't quite put them together. Maybe I'm still searching for what I want to be when I grow up.

    The world needs better fathers, and more mentors

    The Belmont Foundation, a group dedicated to a ministry to children of single parent households, quote these stats in today's blog.

    • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
    • 75% of adolescents patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. (Rainbows for all God’s Children)
    • 70% of juveniles in state operated insitutions[sic] have no fathers. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report)
    • 85% of youth in prison had no fathers at home. (Fulton Co. Georgia jail population, Texas Dept. of Correction)
    • 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
    • 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principal Association Report on the State of High Schools)
    It is clear to me that Belmont's call for more mentors is appropriate. Just as appropriate is the need for better parents, especially fathers. The church needs to focus more attention on the issue of uncommitted fathers.

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Confessions of a CF Husband

    Every so often, I run across a blog that is worth mentioning. Here is one by Nathan Lawrenson. Certainly, this family could use your prayer, but I think we can all use this story as motivation to give our lives over to God completely. Brian Weber, Grace Point's youth pastor speaks on that in his January 20 message.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    The Hidden Spring

    In his book Simply Christian, NT Write tells a parable of a spring of water. In the parable, the towns people love the spring in the begging but later realize that open exposure to the spring creates difficulties. Some times the spring isn't as clear as others; sometimes it is tainted by people; some times it causes floods or dries up. As a result, the spring is capped, the water is captured and then piped to its users. This is good in a way. The water is kept pure and quantities are always appropriate for needs. But over time, the pressure beneath the cap becomes so great that the water bursts out. It is such a violent eruption that the water, carrying great amounts of debris, flood homes and businesses of the town. The mucky mess that it makes is great and disturbing to those who wanted it capped in the first place.

    The spring in this parable is spirituality, and the story describes how we (the western world) got to where we are today. Once, spirituality was organic. Organic things are not pure, but they are honest. In attempt to purify spirituality, western society institutionalized it. It seemed pure, but it was also isolated. It was separated from "real life". We are now in a trend of spirituality bursting forth, and to those how will only accept the purest of spiritual things, it is an ugly trend.

    The bursting out of spirituality is leading people to being more spiritual but less religious. People are looking again for an organic form of looking for God (or whatever). Many have been lead down paths away from the True God to all kinds of substitutes. It isn't a pretty sight for the week of heart.

    For those people who are displease with this trend, I would remind them, that the real cause of this is not that bad people are over taking a good institution. Rather, the cause is that spirituality was never meant to be institutionalized. The result is that after years and years of religion becoming less meaningful to everyday life, people need to have something with meaning. The antidote isn't for the church to recap the stream. It is for the church to continue to preach what is pure. What is pure is the Gospel of Jesus and the Grace of God. What is pure is that faith matters in all aspects of our live and that we should be pursuing God even when we are doing the more mundane tasks. What is pure is that when we institutionalize our religious experience we run the risk of drying up the land.

    Our goal as Christians is to be spiritual in the world. To withdraw and hope that the world will come to us is naive, at best. The door of our churches need to be left open and the wall of our doctrine brought down to a place that we do not restrict true seekers from finding Christ in our midst. We cannot fear that the muddiness of spirituality will destroy the mission of God's Kingdom. God's truth will prevail. What we need to do is get ourselves out of His way.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    The Law of Talion, Karma and Grace

    I've been reading a book called Jesus Without Religion by Rick James. (Not the Rick James that you're familiar with.) James has a fresh new was of looking at the ministry of Christ.

    In the second chapter, James has an interesting quote by rock star Bono. While I'm not convinced that Bono is a prophet, he does bring some good insight to the Christian faith. The quote is taken from an interview that Bono gave to Christianity Today magazine in 2005.
    You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff. (CT. 8/8/2005)

    Think about his way of looking at religion. It is interesting that he doesn't reject the truth of other faiths, rather he point out that Grace, as the core of Christianity, trumps all other truths. Karma is seen as a great enemy to western Christians. It isn't the enemy; it is conquered by Grace. Likewise, the Law of Talon was discussed as a viable law in the Old Testament, but Christ puts it to bed in the New.

    Which of us should not be humbled by this Grace? Which of us is less a sinner than Bono? I'd say no one has that claim, but in Jesus those sins are powerless.

    Bush: I would run as 'agent of change'

    MSNBC reports that Bush says he would run as an agent of change if he were running today. My question is, didn't he? At least, it is interesting that he ran as the one who could unite people across the isles. I think his slogan was, "I'm a uniter not a divider." I wish we could look back and see that he accomplished this in any way. I hope some of the current candidate making the same sorts of claims are more successful.

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Iowa caucuses show people want a person with heart

    I watched a lot of coverage from the Iowa caucuses last night. Like most people I was surprised by the outcomes. But I think I have a little different twist on maybe why Obama and Huckabee won their races.

    Most commentators are crediting these victories on a desire for change calling Huckabee and Obama the two most outside candidates. Others credit Huckabee's victory on his connection with evangelicals. While both of those are true to some extent, I think that there is a greater reason for their victories. The reason that these guys won is that both of them can speak in a way that engages the heart. Obama's speech was motivational. Huckabee's speech was personal. Obama's has been likened to Martin Luther King Jr. in his power and direction. I would say that Huckabee's is much like listening to Max Lucado.

    America, if Iowa is a measure, may just need a spokesperson. After 8 years of George W. Bush and his blunders and not much better with Clinton's 8 years before him, I think America is looking for a leader that can connect with the people emotionally. After all, isn't that why Reagan was so successful?

    I don't know that these Iowa result will mean anything in the end, but I'm convince that Iowan where attracted to the two candidates with the most heart in their public speaking. I hope their speeches are true indicators of their character. Because this year, my main goal is to look past the issues and try to vote based on the character of the candidates.

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    I Am Legend

    Stefanie and I went to a movie on New Year's Eve. Yea, I know that's not real social of us, but we were without children, and since their plans had been so fluid, we didn't make any other plans. Anyhow, we saw I Am Legend starring Will Smith. I was a good movie, not one that I'd see again. I don't usually like thriller type movies. Still this thriller seemed to have more to say that most. I think there were two things that I took out of it.

    First, Will Smith is a better actor than the Fresh Prince. He's come a long way and, other than a lone German Shepherd, he carried the whole movie.

    The second thing I took from the film was actually something I had been thinking about earlier this week. That is that it is difficult to know if a good event or intent will bring about a good result in the end.

    This film opens with a news interview of a scientist who just discovered a 100% cure for cancer. It seemed like a great victory. Unfortunately, they later realize that the virus used to cure cancer, mutated into one that nearly wipes out humankind.

    The moral...When event happen, good or bad, don't put too much stock in the momentary feelings. Ultimately there is only one thing that you can count on always being good. That is God.

    Growing up with Child-like faith

    I had the wonderful opportunity to teach the message in the Sunday services at Grace Point this week. I'd invite you to listen to it. It was a great service all together as we involved children on the worship team and in other aspects of the service. I think you'll find my philosophy of ministry (or at least parenting) clearly stated in the message.