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Showing posts from July, 2014

Some Young Punk Wrote the Book of Hebrews

Here's some more from a recent Sunday morning at my church. 

This episode with Isaac was just one example of Abraham’s faith. We read other biblical writers referring to Abraham’s story. One example is in Romans. Another is found in Hebrews, whom I think had to be written by some young punk. We don’t know who wrote Hebrews but my money is on a young punk.

Hebrews 11:12 is the proof. He's talking about the people of God who lived by faith when he comes to Abraham. As you may know, Abraham is the guy that God called when Abe was a spry 75 years old. Good ol' Abe moved to another land and kept trying to make babies with his wife Sarah, simply because God said He would give Abe a new land to call home and he would become the father of a large nation.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. ~Hebrews 11:12
You can almost hear the author cry out, 'Dead Man Walking!' …

You Have Faith and Nobody Cares

Believe it or not, my church keeps letting me talk in Big Church. Here's part of what I had to say. 
I was talking with Jimmy this week and he said "oh, you believe in God? Well woopitydoo"

He didn't seem impressed that I was a believer in God. He said as much, believing in God is not the goal. He scoffed at the notion of belief in God having any merit. Satan believes in God. But we don't see very many people using Satan as a model for how to live.

Ah, Jimmy. You might already recognize some of my thoughts as reflecting those of James, the brother of Jesus. I have heralded the letter of James as one of my favorite books in the Bible. This is not because it is easy. It’s because James is forthright. He doesn’t mince words. He presents us with reality and then tells us to deal with it.

I can remember in college, getting involved in a guy’s small group on my dorm floor. I mentioned my fondness for the book of James, so it didn’t take long for us to turn to James 1:26.…

How to Survive a Sharknado

I saw the title and knew, even if I delayed doing so at the moment, I would come back to request this book. How to Survive a Sharknado by Andrew Shaffer is a book based on the awesomely awful movie, Sharknado.

Full disclosure: I saw the last 20 minutes of the movie and laughed. If I had time to give away, I might consider going back and making fun of the rest of the film.

The book is a how-to when unnatural disasters strike. We need to survive the inevitable, right? The Red Cross may be around when hurricanes and tornadoes strike. But who is going to help you when those tornadoes are filled with hungry sharks. Or how do you expect to survive when a hurricane comes loaded with monstrous robot pigs (a boaricane for those taking notes)?

The facts, as presented by Shaffer, are that it is up to us. So, chapter by chapter, he takes us through attacks from Mother Nature, the Earth and monsters you only wish were mythical. I'm prone to side with him on the plausibility because, after all…

The Problem With Children's Ministry Resources (But Not Really)

I'm looking at different children's curriculum resources for our children's ministry programs. It's not a task I enjoy. I sit on my youth ministry mountain and look down and make many assumptions about the things that happen in children's ministries.
I have so very many thoughts while swimming through an ocean of options. 
First of all, why are there so many options. Are you telling me children's classes are more than some kind of juice, a box of goldfish and a song with motions? Why do we even need a book to tell us how to do this?
Should there really be crafts? If the church thinks this stuff is so important, they should invest in a hallway of refrigerators for all of this art to go on. 
Why do all the advertisements for these resources show happy adults down on the floor with puppets and glue sticks and well-behaved children? If I used their curriculum, would my classrooms be magically transformed?
Then we get to the curriculum itself. It seems to me that A…

There Can Only Be One

On a recent vacation, we had the chance to be contestants on Double Dare Live. Children of the 1980's will remember the Nickelodeon show Double Dare, a quiz and challenge show that pitted families of four against each other. It was a test of mental prowess. It was moms and dads and children pushing themselves to the physical brink. It was a great excuse to get messy from the gallons of green slime this show produced. 
As a child, I remember yelling at the screen as these inept families failed time and again. I was positive my family, led by me of course, could conquer anything that came our way with the ease that would make us look like Olympians tasked with simply running in a straight line. 
Now would be my opportunity to prove that the beast I imagine within actually existed. Since it would be messy, my wife declined. And since you had to be at least 8 years old, that left my youngest out. 
Teams required one adult and one child, which left me with a predicament. In order to p…


Holy cow! I only thought I was amazed by our universe. But after reading Indescribable by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman, now I am seriously overwhelmed by space.

From the size of stars to the immense gaps in space between objects, I am in way over my head.

But why create stretches of the universe that will never be seen? Why be content for distant galaxies to go completely unnoticed for thousands and thousands of years? It is a mark of extravagance in the heart of our Creator God. God is not like us.  Of course, when you start talking about how big everything is, you have to discuss how small we are.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re not that big after all. But it’s not for lack of trying, is it? In the early days, people tried to build a tower that would reach the heavens. Talk about self-confidence. And, in every generation since, we have worked to elevate our names and build things as if we could really garner fame that lasts. I absolutely love that idea. 
This book is filled with awe-inspi…

Obedience. So Little Fun. Still Required.

I am sitting at camp. It is the end of the week...almost. I have handed out instructions all week. Besides being the speaker, I have also been a counselor.
Some of the things I have instructed have been obeyed immediately. Others, not so much. But here is what i have learned.
Obedience is easy...until we are asked to do something we do not want to do.
It's  time to eat. It's time to play. It's time to sing your fave song. These are easy.
I need you to listen to me. It's time to sleep. It's time to not retaliate when some other camper decides to make a bad choice. Now obedience is not so easy. 
And here is the thing. The campers all say they want to be good. They day they want to be obedient. But truth is found in action.
And the truth is that I am no different than any of these campers. Obedience is easy for me, until I am asked to do something I do not want to do.
Obedience often interrupts the fun we are having. 
Pranks seem to go hand in glove at camps. I actuall…

Things I learned at Camp

We took a team to Northern Michigan last week to serve at a camp. Here's what I learned.
You really can't take enough mosquito repellent. Not only is the mosquito the state bird up there, they are vicious blood suckers who must be working for vampires. So much blood loss.While 7-8 hours of sleep is enough for a normal day, it is not enough for a day at camp. When they schedule a nap time, you do whatever it takes to get a dozen boys age 7-12 to silence themselves. If nothing works, pretend you don't see the boys climbing out the windows while you catch a few winks. You can catch a 9-year old boy a lot easier after a nap.While taking a shower, wash with one eye open. Those mosquitoes (and friends) are everywhere!It's best to guard your more sensitive spots at all times while hanging out with young boys. Tether ball is hazardous to your health. Just don't do it.Northern Michigan lakes are not to be entered. Even in mid-summer, they are brrrrrrr.Going off a slide is t…

God's Mission is Not Dead!

Finishing up our week at camp today. I want the students to hear how they are an important part of God's plan. Here's part of what I'm sharing.

Pete and John were just headed to church, but you never know what's going to happen when you go to church. After all, this is God we're talking about, the too-big-to-be-contained, amazing-beyond-your-imagination, God.

As Acts 3 records it, they come across a beggar. It seems like an intelligent place to beg, with all the compassionate people coming and going. It actually makes me wonder why more beggars don't hang around churches these days. (I'm afraid the lack of beggars around churches may say more about the Church than the beggar.)

The beggar asks for money. He did so without looking up, perhaps to avoid the awkward stares of people who would rather not give. Peter asked the beggar, who also happened to be crippled, to look him in the eye. The beggar does so, hoping for some money. Peter kills that dream rather qui…

God's Holiness is Not Dead!

I may have posted this here on my blog before, but I'm up at camp teaching and I'm using this story as part of a lesson on God's holiness.

I'm teaching my kids the Lord's Prayer. It leads to some fun conversations. We're purposely taking our time discussing the different aspects of this prayer. How it begins is interesting.

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your Name I want them to really own this prayer. Too many of us only know this as the prayer we say during a service. Depending on your tradition, you say it during communion, after the pastor prays or some other set period of time. But Jesus wasn't giving us something we could all say in unison.

So we read the prayer. Then I asked them to imagine, to use their imaginations, much like I want you to do now.

Imagine I invited you to my home. Upon entering, you saw that I had a giant picture of myself placed prominently in the living room. As you might guess, it's a glamour shot. Once you came in, I also t…

God's Not Dead!

I am up at camp this week, teaching a bunch of kids and teens. I'll be posting some of what I'll be sharing with them. Pray for me and my whole team as we serve.

I think there are a couple of reasons to believe anyone. First, if what they are saying is true. Second, if they can back it up. So how do you prove that something someone says is true? Wouldn’t they have to tell you what they are going to do ahead of time and then actually do it?

If your mom said she was going to make you lunch in a half an hour, you could start looking at the clock. But if an hour passed and still you had no lunch, you would know 2 things. First, now you’re really hungry. Second, your mom is a liar.

Or, you might come to find out that your mom didn’t have any peanut butter or jelly in the house. So, even though she wanted lunch to be true, she had no power to actually make it happen.

So now let’s apply this to Jesus. I can tell you that He told people He was God. When they asked for proof, He told them …

What's Stopping You?

Sometimes we talk about the Apostles as if everything was kittens and rainbows for these guys, as if everything they touched turned to gold. Yes, they had amazing displays of the Holy Spirit power. But let’s not pretend there weren’t obstacles to their mission, which, by the way, is also our mission.

It is interesting how the book of Acts begins and ends. In Acts 1 we have the disciples barely wanting to start their mission.

Do you remember Acts 1? Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. Instead of asking what that might be like, they ask when he’s going to come back. Jesus gives them the equivalent of ‘Don’t worry about it!’ Then He ascends right before their very eyes. Then they stand there with jaws dropped, like a bunch of Gomer Pyle stunt doubles, until an angel has to ask them what they are standing around for.

When the Holy Spirit comes on the disciples in Acts 2, it becomes a line in the sand. Goobers no more, the disciples become a force to be reckoned with.…

Have You Heard the Whole Story?

I don't recall the sermon, or even the point of the sermon (which makes me exactly like most people who listen to my sermons), but I remember what happened afterward.

In that particular sermon I had included a story about David, the mighty King David, being a murderer and an adulterer. I came off the stage to my own children, Jacie and Luke, who were in shock. "King David murdered a person!?!"

Yeah, I would have loved to have some extra company over that day for lunch. Sitting over a crock pot of yummy Sunday warmth, while explaining to my kids how David, the man after God’s own heart, had eyes that wandered and had blood on his hands. Can you pass the carrots?

This isn't a rant about how we do children's church, because the Bible is so full of stories, I won't apologize that many stories focus on the positives of God and the people who follow Him. But my kids had somehow slipped by learning of David the lusting murderer.

This happens easily enough with teachi…