Monday, November 28, 2005


I received a forward today from a good friend. It was a forward that he had received. In order to shorten my post I will tell you that this was the forward basically word for word. The bemusing thing is that the e-mail I received had something like 776 names on it. I don't like forwards and this is one of the reasons.

But this e-mail triggered a though process in my brain. Why is it that people are so gullible? Evangelicals and charismatics in particular are in general pretty quick to believe every story they hear about some assault on our religious liberties. (Note: Yes, I do believe that are freedom of religion is in danger in many ways. I just think we should do some checking before we believe everything we are told.) We always assume the worst about our "opponents" and thus are quick to believe anything that would paint them in a negative light. There's no real need to check the facts is there?

On the other side of the political spectrum our fellow citizens who are liberal in their politics tend to hate this President with a white hot fury. So they are quick to believe anything that would confirm their beliefs about Bush, Cheney, Rove, Haliburton, Condy Rice, etc. Why bother to check the facts? Case in point? The Rather memo fiasco from 2004. No follow my thought process if you can.

Going back to evangelicals and charismatics in particular. Many of our fellow Christians are quick to believe every teaching, every wind that is blowing. We aren't very critical of the doctrines that are taught by folks on TV or in the book store as long as they tend toward what we want to hear. Paul mentions itching ears to Timothy. I think you know what I am referring to. As long as it is written or said by a teacher or preacher we have heard of then it must be true. Especially if it makes me want to say Amen! Or if we haven't heard of them but they have endorsements on the book jacket from someone we like then we are more likely to turn of our critical thinking.

On the other hand if it is written or said by someone who we would tend to disagree with, say a United Methodist or someone who identifies with the emerging church conversation or someone who went to the wrong school etc., the tendency is to be hypercritical of them. Why, their syntax is incorrect here they must be a false teacher. In that case we won't even listen to what they have to say. All I want is some common sense and some critical thinking.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Christmas Shoes

Maybe I should start this post out with a bah humbug! I'm sure some people will think that of me. Last year I heard this song called Christmas shoes. My wife wanted me to buy her a Christmas cd today so I did without looking at what songs were on it. Eventually this song Christmas Shoes came on. Let me say it is my least favorite Christmas song ever, at least as far as modern day "Christian" Christmas songs go. If you like the song let me know. But here is why I dislike the song so much.

A man is standing in line to buy some last minute Christmas presents even though he doesn't feel much in the Christmas "spirit." A dirty little boy is in line ahead of him. (First why does he have to be filthy dirty just because his parents are apparently poor?) The little boy wants to buy his dying mother shoes for Christmas so she will look nice if she meets Jesus tonight. Daddy says there isn't much time but apparently because daddy is poor he can't keep track of his kids. When he comes up a little short at the register he turns around and pleads with the man to help him buy momma her Christmas shoes. The writer is really tugging at your heart strings here. I can feel the tears welling up. (Now I don't like songs that manipulate you with the lyrics but that isn't why I don't like this song. I am getting to that.)

So of course the middle class guy can't help himself and he forks over the difference. The little boy thanks him and runs out of this self-centered man's life. This is the part of the song that really gets me:
I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love As he thanked me and ran out .I knew that God had sent that little boyTo remind me just what Christmas is all about.

Isn't awesome? The God of the universe afflicted some poor little boy's momma with an incurable disease and brought the filthy little bugger into the department store with a broken heart so he could buy some cheap shoes for his momma on Christmas Eve just so that some self-centered man could remember what Christmas is all about. Now I don't like Newsong because their lyrics tend to be theologically shallow and just plan goofy, but this song takes the cake. Let me list the things that tick me off:
1. God afflicts some poor unfortunate with illness so that her broken hearted boy can teach a self-centered man a lesson about "the meaning of Christmas."
2. The boy runs out of his life and the man's first thoughts are not about that poor family and their heartache but about himself and how great it is that God has taught him this priceless lesson about the "the meaning of Christmas."
3. What is the meaning of Christmas from this song? That we should be generous and kind? That God loves the not poor more than the poor? That we should think of others from time to time?

All of these "meanings" would be wrong. Yet I am sure that this song will be sung many times in churchs this season. And I am sure many people will dab tears from their eyes as the refrain is repeated. But this song is not about what Christmas is. Christmas should be a celebration of the incarnation. It is about God becoming man. It is about God seeking out broken people and providing a sacrifice so that we can receive forgiveness and healing. It is about God doing something we could never do no matter how generous and kind we are, no matter how many poor people we help, no matter how may soup lines we work in, no matter how many social programs we start. We aren't good enough but God is. And He made a way for us by sending His Son to become a baby born of a virgin, to live a perfect life, to die as a sinless sacrifice in our place. Christmas is mysterious and wonderful and joyful.

The real meaning of Christmas is Incarnation. Emmanuel God with us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Part two:

Yesterday the broken urinal was fixed. Noah's eyes lit up when we into the bathroom. It was almost too good to be true for him. He just stood there for a minute like he couldn't believe his eyes. He said, "it's fixed." I said, "Well use it!"

Life is pretty simple when you are three.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Discourse on a broken urinal.

My family and I go to the Wal-Mart SuperCenter at least once a week to do the bulk of our shopping. This isn't a post about Wal-Mart pro or con. I have noticed that for the last three or four weeks one of the urinals in the men's restroom has been broken. It is taped up and has a sign on it. This urinal is the one that is lower to the ground so that boys can use it more easily. The reason I notice is because Noah is three years old. Having been potty trained for a relatively short amount of time he needs to visit the restroom frequently. If he gets bored while we are shopping he has to go as well. So I am in this restroom a minimum of once or twice a week. Noah is quite unhappy about this urinal being broken as it is the one he uses.

The point of my discourse on a broken urinal is that it makes a point about priorities. As a father I notice when I go to business establishments what kind of considerations they have made for families with small children. I realize that the world doesn't revolve around my family, but I can tell when a business has made an effort to appeal to families. Little things make a big difference. Does the restroom have a toilet on a level that a three year old can reach? Does the restroom have a sink that can be reached by a small child? Does it have a clean diaper changing station? Are there water fountains that can be reached by a small child?

Businesses that make the effort are more likely to get my business. I have realized that when we have families visit our church they will notice whether or not we care about kids by looking at our facility. Small things can make a big difference. Is the nursery clean and well lit? Is it staffed adequately? Are the bathrooms family friendly? By not fixing this urinal in a timely fashion Wal-mart is making a statement. Whether they intend to or not. Often our church makes a statement whether we intend to or not. Just a thought.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


In my wandering through the blogosphere today I came across a pastor's blog in which he discusses the gift of cessation. He says that the gift of cessation is the canon of Scripture. With this gift we no longer need tongues, prophecy, miracles, etc. I don't doubt that this man is a very solid Christian. I just disagree with his premise. He looks at scripture through a lens that says that miracles no longer happen. He rejects the supernatural.

But we serve a supernatural God. I believe God still does miracles and the purpose of these miracles is to confirm the truth of the gospel. All over the world the church is growing and miracles accompany the preaching of the gospel. No where in scripture does it say that miracles will cease. To interpret scripture otherwise is in error. I believe that much of cessationism is a reaction to the charismatic movement and its excesses. As a young person I wanted to reject Pentecostal doctrine because of the excesses I saw. But after further study I believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I believe in miracles. I believe in the infallibility of Scripture.

Why would Jesus tell His disciples to wait for power from on high if it wasn't needed. If the disciples needed the power of the Holy Spirit in their day we certainly need it today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


My daughter turned six yesterday. She is who she is and I love her. She is driven to get her way in life which often causes her to clash with other people especially mom and dad. But she is a beautiful little girl who is very smart. She is a catlyst in helping her daddy learn to bear more of the fruit of the Spirit!

Friday, November 11, 2005


12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:12

I realized today that I am content. I don't know if I have ever been at the place of being content in my life. Maybe for brief periods of time. I am content in my marriage. My wife is my best friend. I have awesome kids. I have great people in my church. I have good friends. I know that I am exactly in the place of ministry that God wants me in and I have a great deal of anticipation for what lies ahead in my life.

Please don't misunderstand me. My marriage can improve and I know it will continue to do so. I love my wife more now than ever before. My kids are not yet raised and I am not a perfect dad. I need to improve my parenting skills. There is much that needs to change in our church and there are a lot of people who need Jesus in our community. I always have pictured myself as being more suited for a larger community. Leading the change and seeing growth is going to challenge me more than anything I have attempted in my life. I need to be more intentional in developing and maintaining friendships that are more than surface level. And I desperately need to improve my skills and learn more. I need to grow even more in my faith. But I am content.

I am content because I know that God wants my marriage to grow. It has improved over the years, not that it was ever bad. But as God leads us closer together I know that a greater intimacy will develop. That's exciting. I see my kids are learning to love God. God has promised to give us wisdom so I know that while I will make mistakes my kids will turn out to be great people who love God. God has given me vision for our church and community and what joy there will be in heaven as people are touched and lives are salvaged. I know that God has led me safe thus far and by His grace I will continue to mature in my faith and leadership.

I am content because I know that as good as things are in my life, God has greater things in store! I hope that you can learn the secret of being content.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I haven't had time to write anything. Saturday night after I got home from convention a storm blew through town. It did enough damage that I spent a great deal of time Sunday and Monday cleaning up. Here's my wife's post on her blog with pictures.

I'll write about convention when I have time and when I can do it without complaining!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Youth Convention

So I am tired this morning. Which is unfortunate. I have been dealing with a fiery sore throat for a couple days and it prevented restful sleep last night. Plus our poor baby Seth has a cough and runny nose. Today we are taking kids to Springfield for IYCM's Momentum convention. Last year I took four boys by myself. This year thankfully I have a sponsor going with me. It was challenging last year by myself. But you do what you have to do.

I am not much good with teens I think. But we have four boys who come every week. Three of them are unchurched and have no dad at home. All three have been saved since I have started working with them. This work has required a lot of sweat and tears. Like I said I am not very good as a youth pastor. But I keep plowing away and wearing this hat because I know God is watching whether I am faithful in the small things. And to these boys I don't think this is really a small thing. I do not know how much time I will have with them. One is sixteen and planning on dropping out as soon as he is seventeen. My hope is to disciple them so that they still serve the Lord when I no longer have contact with them. It's hard work and so far our Tuesday night studies haven't grown much.

Todd Agnew is leading worship this weekend so I am looking forward to it even though I don't feel well and I am tired (listen to me whine). Jonah 33 who I have never heard of is in concert tonight and tomorrow Sanctus Real who I have heard of but don't own any of their stuff will be playing. Should be good. If anyone reads this maybe you could pray for us.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Revenge of the Sith

So episode three came out on DVD yesterday. Elijah my oldest has now watched it three times. He loves Star Wars. It is a dark movie though isn't it? It is interesting to watch how quickly Anakin goes over to the dark side and how easily he decieves himself.

George Lucas did a good job tying things together and all in all it was a good movie. I am looking forward to the upcoming release of the Narnia movie. I love those books and the imagery that Lewis uses is awesome. The way he uses Aslan to parallel Christ is tremendous. It speaks to children on a level they can understand and to adults. C.S. Lewis was a gifted man.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Do I envy someone else's success

I was struck by the way the NLT puts this passage from John 3:27-30

27John replied, "God in heaven appoints each person's work. 28You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him--that is all. 29The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom's friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at his success. 30He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

What struck me was the bride will go where the bridegroom is. The bride of course is the church, those who love Christ. The Bridegroom is Christ. I know that despite whatever methods I use it isn't about me anyway. The Bride will find the Bridegroom. And I should be filled with joy when that happens no matter what. Because I must become less and less and Christ in me must become greater and greater.

Can we learn from NASCAR?

I came across this article and it was excellent.

In the last year or two I have started watching NASCAR. I find it interesting. Plus on a Sunday afternoon I can doze off and wake up and not miss much because they will replay most of the wrecks and great passes. What Chad Hall points out is that many NASCAR fans secretly think, "I can do that." as they watch the races.

Does your congregation come away from your messages with such a good understanding of the main point saying, "I can do that."

Two other great points:
1. A driver doesn't have to win in order to win.
2. NASCAR promotes a team approach to individual success.

Great article! A lot to think about.