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Showing posts from September, 2011

Many Changes, One Purpose

A couple of weeks ago, my now-10-year-old said, ‘I don’t care what people think. I’m wearing white after Labor Day.’ However the fashion police want to handle this is up to them, but clearly my daughter was having none of it. She sees no reason why her color choice should be dictated by season. Of course, there are times I look at my children and ask if anything dictates their tastes in fashion. 
Seasons do change and weather will demand that shorts are packed up and jackets make their first appearance. I can accept that. Despite any of our likes or dislikes, the seasons keep taking turns, one right after the other. It won’t be long before we experience a time change. And, if we pay attention, we can see subtle changes in our children and youth ministries as the teachers may remain but the students keep changing.
Change is all about us. It is so prevalent that it’s a wonder that we have ever had time to get used to something and miss it when it’s gone. Maybe that’s just me.
Whether you …

Speaking of Jesus

Have you heard the one about Jesus? According to Carl Medearis, author of Speaking of Jesus, you'd like that one. No joke.

I just finished Carl's book in less than a week, and I'm not the fastest reader. The sub-title, The Art of Not-Evangelism, says it all. This was a refreshing conversation that ended with me face-to-palm saying, 'of course, it is that simple!'

At under 200 pages, Carl pounds the point home that Jesus is what we should be talking about, not religion. Jesus is what attracts people, not our explanations of how our denominations began or even why our non-denominations began. He walks us through his experiences, his conversations and through the Gospel accounts of Jesus and points out the simplicity of living like this.

At the same time, he naturally points out the need and his belief that doctrine is important. He's not about to start denying basic truths about Jesus, God, the Bible, or anything else that we defend. He just says we don't …

Ham on a String

Even though I saw it happen, I actually could not believe my eyes. There was no ESPN instant replay, but I didn't need it. My wife had just tore her hamstring. She was coming to third base in a church-league softball game when the coach told her to go home. Little did he know he would soon be sending her to a couch in her home. She turned on the speed, rounded third and almost instantly pulled up lame.

If she had been a horse, I would have grabbed my rifle. Did I just compare my wife to a horse? Neigh!

Being the competitive woman that she is, my wife limped home, scoring the first run in what would turn out to be a losing effort. But at least she scored, right? Don't worry, the jokes wouldn't last long, as the pain got worse that night and the next day included a couple trips to doctors, a purchase of crutches and the realization that her softball season was over.

That's when the real pain started. Not for her, but for me. Because despite the fact that I said and d…

God First, Man Second: Ephesians 2:8-10

Too often we approach scripture with a question. What does this have to say to me? It might sound like a good question, but I don't believe it's the first one we should be asking. What does this say about God? Now that's a great question. With that in mind, I continue my Monday series with the following;

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~Ephesians 2:8-10

You might be thinking this is a great verse all around. You're right, but we actually answer both questions when we start with God.

First, God is a giver. Grace is such a good gift that He gives it to people and tells them it's free.

Second, we learn God created us. Nice job, God! I see you've given us a purpose. Apparently God is a planner. That's good to know.

Figuring this …

Friday Free for All

I'm not exactly sure what Fridays will look like, but I'm picturing a menage of variety here. If I'm posting a series, they will continue on these days. If I have random thoughts, you'll hear them here. If I've got nothing, who needs to read that? You're much too busy for fluff. But you are in luck, I do happen to have something for today.

What I have is the realization that even in my search for insignificance, I seek out significance. It's something that occurs to me quite often, though I try to beat it down like one of those arcade games where they give you the hammer and all those smug little faces keep popping up. Admittedly that comparison got away from just a bit, much like my desire to be significant.

But here's what I realized. I don't end my blog posts with a question. I see many other bloggers that do that. At first I thought it was just their thing. But what it does is continue the conversation. What I've been doing is comparable to …

Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die

Welcome to Wednesdays. This is going to be the day I post book reviews. I won't have one every week, but this will be where you find it. I used to post these on Fridays, but I said changes were coming. Here's another one of them. Oh, and here's my book review for this week.
It may be the title of my post bringing you here. I'm sure the word 'Hell' and Rob's name do a better job of that than calling this post 'A Book I Read'. However, I must let you know that I have not read Love Wins by Rob Bell. It's not that I didn't want to. It's not that I read a bad review and made up my mind from that. I just didn't...or haven't yet.

What I have read is Bobby Conway's Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die. As I said recently here, it makes a bit uncomfortable when people appear to be attacking someone instead of merely presenting their own viewpoint. So I imagine that Rob Bell may not appreciate the focus of this book. (The…

If Jesus Could Do It, So Can I

On Tuesdays, I like to post a thought. This has been my most committed day to blog. The topics tend to vary, depending on what is rolling around my head, but I do try to keep that focus where it should be, on God. This is also usually a post that doubles as a weekly newsletter devotional for my youth group. Pardon me for multi-tasking, but the overall schedule demands it. 

You're not that important. Shocked? Hurt? Dismayed that I would say such a thing? Don't be offended. I am even less so. Less important that is. (That makes me sound like Yoda, doesn't it? Less important I am. See you will.)

My insignificance has become clearer to me over the past week or so. This, for me, is my big week of changes on my blog. It's ok if you didn't know that. Insignificance has a way of keeping information like that on the down-low. What I didn't realize was that even my wife didn't know.

I try to talk with this lady in my life on a fairly regular basis. That is, after the…

God First, Man Second

I told you changes were coming. Here's the first. Each Monday I am going to roll out what I call a God First, Man Second reminder. My whole goal here is to take verses from the Bible and ask the following questions; what does this say about God? Secondly, what does this say about man? I believe the order is important, because asking who man is first will yield us very different answers. Let's get started.

Genesis 1:26-28
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves…

Insignificance Pursued

If you read my book review last Wednesday, I forewarned of upcoming changes. Nope, not more exercise and less cookies. That'd be silly. I can't even fathom why anyone would do this. In fact, the other night I asked my wife if she wanted anything while I was up getting myself cookies. She said she didn't need anything.

I scoffed. Never in history has a doctor ever uttered the phrase, "Nurse, this man needs a cookie, stat!" But that's not why I eat them. Now, what was I saying?

Oh yes, changes. I mean changes to my blog. I just read 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain, a book I recommend for bloggers. He brings great focus for bloggers who want to build their platform. But this is also where I struggled.

You may notice, if you visit my blog at all, that the main topic I turn to frequently is insignificance. It's even in the sub-title for my blog. It's something I am pretty passionate about, this idea that instead of seeking to be famo…

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo

Bryan Allain said he was looking for a few bloggers to review his book in time for its release on September 14. Always a sucker for humor and free books, I signed up. And Bryan delivered on both fronts.

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is now my blogging Bible. And while Allain's book is shorter, much shorter, than the Bible, it did some of the same things to me as I read it. The Bible is a book that helps you to see yourself for who you really are. Likewise, 31 Days did the same thing for my blog.

The Bible brings about change. Or at least, it should. 31 Days will do the same things for my blog. Or, at least, that is my hope.

Bryan Allain slipped in so much funny that you almost forget he's trying to teach you something. My version of the book is an e-book. I almost bookmarked every page. It was that good!

When I say I like other books, you have to take my word for it. I may quote from it or discuss it for a while. With this book, my like will be shown through the chan…

My Son: The Toymaker!

I don't know what you talk about around the family dinner table, but topics at my house have a wide range. From discussing why southerners have an accent to how it would be if Phineas and Ferb lived with us we pretty much cover it all.

So it shouldn't have surprised me when conversation turned to baby dolls and why some of them have ugly faces. After all, some real babies have ugly faces. (Tell me I'm wrong!)

My son, always quick to offer a solution, though not always a great one, offered this. "What if the baby doll smiled when you picked it up to look at it?" Can't you see the possibilities here? How could you put back a baby that smiled when you chose it? And what if the baby had some pre-recorded messages such as, 'Yay! I finally have a family!' or 'Thank you for choosing me!'

Are you telling me that you hate people so much that you could put that baby doll back? Are you the type of person that enjoys kicking kittens? You are, aren't y…

Gracenomics

Mike Foster has written a short manifesto called Gracenomics: Unleash the Power of Second Chance Living. He has also founded an online community called People of the Second Chance (potsc.com) so this is not just a passing fad for him.

The book is only five chapters long and written quite simply. Don't mistake that for criticism, because the concept of grace is easier to explain than it is to live. Mike writes in a way that is inspiring and gives one hope that we could each make a difference by doling out grace in our relationships.

I came across a free e-version of this book from the good peole at Catalyst. At the risk of sounding like I lack grace, the one criticism I'll mention is that this book contains some foul language. I realize that may make me sound like a prude (or a 7-year old tattletale) but the book was not enhanced in any way by those 3 or 4 words.

All in all, a good book and a good reminder for us all as we live with one another.

Scared By Grace

I can remember, as a child, how I would look at grown-up men, especially my dad, and assume they had no fear at all. It's not as if they were cyborgs who had no emotion, but they certainly didn't seem to be riddled with the long list of fears that I had to keep track of.

Among others, I was scared of:
the dark, because that's where the Boogie Monster lives
bears, even though I had never run into one
running out of cookies, a fear I still have
small spaces, a legitimate fear with a real name
sisters, but only the ones I had
and kittens, they only look innocent

Now, as a dad myself, I realize the list of things to be afraid of only increases;

no job, because a lack of an income can be a real downer on my spending habits
presidential races, because those debates can interfere with my TV viewing schedule
small children, because they are really sticky
car repairs, because I didn't listen to my dad when he was teaching me how to fix stuff
taxes, home repairs, inflation, the return of Th…