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Showing posts from November, 2013

Blogging is Stupid

Blogging is stupid. Yes, I said it. Yes, I realize the irony of saying this on my blog. 
Please notice that I did not say bloggers are stupid. While I may be stupid, I certainly do not think you are stupid because you blog. I may think you are stupid for other reasons. (Of course I don't mean you, but let's keep that between us.)
But yes, blogging is stupid. I agree with the demotivational poster which once described blog in this way: never before has so much been read by so few. 
Ouch!
When one thinks about this, they'll realize that there are 7 billion people on this planet and 9 billion blogs. Most of them, mine included, are a secluded wasteland of one person's thoughts. I think there are probably 8 blogs in total which generate conversation. Half of those are primarily written in order to start the argument about to begin in the comments section. Go Internet!
But at least they begin a conversation of sorts. Everywhere else consists of people, like me, talking abou…

Dad is Fat

I want to thank Jim Gaffigan for being the sole source of joy in an otherwise dreary day. My apologies to anyone who might do the math and realize that they were with me on the day I listened to this book. But I'm not backing off my words.

Jim Gaffigan, who you may know as the 'Hot Pocket' comic, did everyone a favor when he read his own book. Because now his book became a longer version of his stand-up shows. I, for one, am a big fan. Jim is mostly clean (warning: there are a few spicy parts that I could do without). He avoids the pitfalls of many of today's comics while actually being funny.

I don't want to overstate this, but give credit where credit is due. The fact that so many comics seem incapable of being funny and clean must make Gaffigan a genius at his craft.

Dad is Fat is great parenting advice, which is to say there is very little you, as responsible parents, should try to implement. However, if you appreciate the fact that parenting is likely the hard…

Hold On

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. ~Hebrews 4:9-10
There are certain times of the year where particular verses mean more. For me, it's after all of the freshness of a new school year has wore off. It's when every reason you had at the beginning for thinking this might be easy is gone. 
But whoever said we wanted what was easy? Whoever said that our goals should be handed to us on a silver platter? It wasn't me. I don't use phrases like that, except when asking questions not really meant to be answered.
Does all this sound a bit dark and brooding? I know, that's not really my style. Forgive me, I just watched The Dark Knight movies again recently. You can read my latest book review to see what made me do that. 
But Hebrews 4 does bring me a promise I hold to closely. Because life isn't always easy. But when you're part…

God on the Streets of Gotham

Holy good reads, Batman!

Paul Asay has written a great book for growing Christians and avid Capped Crusader fans alike. Seriously.

God on the Streets of Gotham is a page-turner for anyone who has followed Bruce Wayne for any number of years. While I have never met Paul, I can only assume he is a huge comic book fan, or is incredible at research. I suppose it could be both, but my guess is that his fanboy personality leads to the drive to be thorough.

'No honey, I must watch the movies again for that book I'm working on....it's for Jesus!'

Paul covers everything from the original comics and the days of Adam West all the way through the Christopher Nolan series of late. He even shows himself to be true by calling the George Clooney version 'regrettable.' Good call, Asay!

Along the way, he writes about Batman's origins, his call and his armor, even referring to the Bat-Belt of Truth.

As I am also a big fan of the Bat, I believe Paul does a good job covering th…

I'm a Youth Pastor

I'm a youth pastor. I play a part. Every once in a while, it's good to be reminded of that. Here are some great thoughts from Adam McClane over at adammcclane.com.

Rick Nier says Woo!

One the one hand, youth ministry plays a critical role in the faith development of teenagers. It’s incredible to be part of life transformation at such a defining point in their lives.
On the other hand you are only reading one chapter on a teenagers life.
You get– Chapter 3: The Teenage Years.
Finish this article here.

When Expectations Are NOT Met

I am experiencing a change in how I spend my time this week. For the last 2 months, I had been spending large amounts of time preparing for a 6-week sermon series while my senior pastor was away. 
You could say I did a few things....uhhh....differently. 
As a finale to the series, I organized the entire worship service backwards. That's right! I put the sermon at the beginning and the singing at the end. You can go here for part of the why. A lesser reason for doing so was to keep people guessing.
I wouldn't do something drastic just for kicks and giggles, but it is interesting, to say the least, to see people deal with change. Here's a few of the things that happened. 
Our church has a bulletin. We print the order of service each week. Truthful to my plan, I printed the service order backwards. I had no less than 4 people come to me before the service, bulletin in hand, and ask if we were starting at the bottom of the bulletin. I corrected them and said we would go in the…

Shaped By The Story

How do you teach people the Bible? It's an important question. After all, we're not dealing with how to make a chicken pot pie. We're discussing life and death matters as people learn about...well....life and death. So it matters.

So when my friends at Youth Worker Journal offered me a copy of Michael Novelli's book Shaped by the Story: Discover the Art of Bible Storying, I grabbed it.

Michael is quite open about his connections to Sparkhouse and Echo the Story and how resources are sold with his name on it. But he doesn't come across as writing a long advertisement. He writes about his journey, how he has taught and the several stops on his own journey that have led him to where he is.

Through it all, we see the heart of a youth pastor, wanting to ensure that teens not only hear the word, but retain it enough to live it out. Divided into sections, Michael begins with his own story, then continues to theories of why stories make a difference in teaching. In one sp…

Don't Tell God What He Can't Do!

Here is the heart of my sermon from this past Sunday, taken from a great Old Testament story.

Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.” ~2 Kings 7:1
I’m not an expert in exchange rates, but Elisha is stating a miraculous thing, that prices will drop…drastically.

The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn't happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”
But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” ~2 Kings 7:2 Here is the first truth;

Our view of God makes a difference. (7:2)

The messenger of the king said it couldn't happen even if the gates of Heaven opened up. It is one thing for us to doubt our own strength and power, the power of man or governments but when we start…

Changing It Up

This last Sunday, I finished my sermon series by doing the entire worship service in reverse order.

Why would we do the entire service backwards? For starters, it keeps people guessing. But it is an image of what we are as Christians. Compared to the society at large, the things we do are backwards, they are opposing.

There is no getting around this truth. Christians don’t act, speak or think like non-Christians. Consider some of the things we see form people in the Church;

Why would people invest every Sunday morning into teaching? Why would so many volunteers invest their Wednesday nights to kidZone, their weekends and vacation times to youth group trips, their afternoon cooking for college students, their evening spent in committee work, their early mornings at prayer meetings? Why would people invest their extra money to projects that may or may not directly benefit them? Why would they invest so much thought and energy into the larger body of believers?

When writing about the men an…

I Needed This

If you've been following me lately, you know I've had a busy 6 weeks. My senior pastor has been away, teaching in the Middle East. Don't get me wrong, I love preaching. But this schedule was full. Different things kept me going. Here's one message I needed deep into week 5 from youth ministry guru Rick Lawrence.

In case you're wondering, it's the warhorses verse I quoted until my tasks were done. Thanks Rick!

[PERSONAL GROWTH] RENOUNCING YOUR WARHORSES by Rick Lawrence You’re probably pretty darn good at your job—whether or not you hear that affirmation from your students or their parents or your supervisor. You’ve done some pretty great things under some pretty difficult circumstances—I’m pretty sure of it… And, after all, one of our tacit pursuits is “excellence”—we’re a culture that worships excellence in all of its expressions. We want excellent service at excellent restaurants so we can enjoy excellent conversation with our e…

Clear Winter Nights

The problem with most theology books is that most people don't want to read them. They find them boring, often because people only think they want to know more about God.

The problem with most novels that attempt to teach theology is the contrived conversation, hardly believable and too easily solved.

But Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax does not have either of those problems. The story and the characters are engaging, real and left unsolved. You can fill in the blanks for yourself on how the journey ends for these characters, much the way you can for your own journey.

This short book is filled with great quotes that will leave you thinking about what you believe about God. I recommend this book for an afternoon of your time.

I was given this book by my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah, also a great place to find this book.

Bad Stink!

Here's a bit more from my recent sermon, on how the Church should represent Christ. 

Just last week, my kids wanted to go outside. Maybe you have had similar experiences with your children, but I feel like Jen and I have to reintroduce our children to the idea of seasons every year. When summer fades and cold weather comes upon us, one might wonder if my kids have any feeling left in their bodies. All 3 of them attempted to exit the house without jackets. The oldest 2 tried going out without shoes or socks. I corrected that, but then I saw Luke unfolding a pair of socks.

This was suspicious, because Luke doesn't fold socks. When that chore comes around, he suddenly shows me his hands and, to my amazement, he has 10 thumbs. Can’t fold socks with 10 thumbs. So, being the wise parent I am, I knew the boy had previously taken off the socks he wore to school, decided it would be easier to get a new pair (because, after all, there is this magic drawer in his room that makes clean sock…

But I Just Left?!?

I'm almost to the end of my 6-week preaching series, which keeps me writing plenty. So I'm sharing snippets on my blog. Here's part of what I shared just yesterday...

I want to talk about the Church and its purpose this morning. I thought about starting with some bad illustrations of churches behaving badly. It wouldn't have been difficult to find several examples. Google produced over 2 million results when I typed in churches behaving badly.

Then I considered that a bit more and decided against that as an introduction. After all, the Church is not a building, a steeple, a resting place or anything like that. The church is (a people)! Is anybody else hearing the old Sunday School chorus in their heads right now?

I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world,
yes, we're the church together!
The truth is that when we hear stories of Churches mistreating people, we are hearing stories of people mistreating p…

The Call to Knowing

We can know God. We can be in relationship with Him. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for God to reveal Himself. There would have been no need to create such beauty and order. There would have been no need for God to do all He has done to establish, correct and re-establish this relationship with us. And it would have been a waste of God’s breath to give us life, to call us to His family and to direct us to His mission.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 10, asks how people can believe in the one in whom they have not heard. He asks how they can hear unless someone goes. He asks how someone can go unless they are called. I’m asking how someone can hear that call unless they know God. How can anyone share something they don’t have?

The call to a deep relationship, where we not only discover that we’re known and loved, is a continued call where we also learn the many attributes of God. We may only see a poor reflection now, but God has revealed and is revealing enough to keep us in …