Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ron Howard Campaigns for Obama

Check out this video of Ron Howard showing his support for Barrack Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Thoughts

When I was younger I looked forward to Halloween. Mom always made our costumes, although there were a few years when we bought costumes. I remember being a clown, a ghost, a hobo or even Batman. It was great to dress up. When I became a dad I remember taking my daughters out in their own costumes. They would dress up as princesses and cheerleaders. Like I did many years before, we would go door to door collecting candy from our neighbors. The neighbors got such a big kick out of seeing the girls in their costumes. Our closest neighbors gave them extra candy or a special gift purchased just for them.

As I am considering Halloween I am wondering if our Christian attempt to take over Halloween has done it a disservice. Churches open up their campuses on Halloween night to offer a safe alternative; some call it Harvest Festival or a Pumpkin Party. But consider for a moment if Halloween has ever really been unsafe.

How many news reports have we seen or read about tainted candy given to kids by some crazy? How many kids have become followers of Satan because of Halloween?

Now I have had many good times at Harvest Festivals and Pumpkin Parties at many churches. We open this night to the community to come and enjoy a safe night of Trick or Treat at church. We desire that this night would be an outreach event to a lost world. But I wonder if most of the people coming to our Harvest Festivals and Pumpkin Parties are not just other Christians. Have churches missed the mark?

Here is my thought, for what it is worth: cancel church sponsored Halloween. Instead, encourage the congregation to go door to door with their kids and meet their neighbors. Get excited to greet every kid that Trick or Treats at your door. Don’t give out tracks! Spend some money on candy and be generous! Think about it, your neighbors are coming to your door, it is a natural ice breaker. This is a night to build relationships.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fear Filled Election

I know we probably don’t need another response to the election but I have some thoughts. There is a letter being circulated throughout the web predicting what the US will look like in 2012 (Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America) if Barack Obama is elected president. There are many people who are seriously fearful of the outcome of this coming election. Negative campaigning suggests there is only one choice, the right choice. If that wrong individual or proposition gets elected or passed the world is going to fall apart and you will lose your freedoms because of your wrong choice. You were warned!

Please do not let fear dictate who you vote for. Be intelligent, research the candidates and their running mates.

Do you know there are good Christian Republicans and good Christian Democrats? Maybe you have been told Christians only vote for Republicans. Therefore if you vote for a Democrat you must not be a Christian.

Do you know we have had bad Republican Presidents and bad Democratic Presidents and we have had great Republican and great Democratic Presidents? Some of these bad presidents also claimed to be Christians.

Bottom line: when we consider the teachings of Jesus where does love play out in the political process. Isn’t love Christ’s vision statement? If so, every issue and every candidate should be measured by their capacity to love and to share that love with neighbor. Our neighbors are poor and rich, black and white. Our neighbor can be across the street or across the world. Maybe 1 Corinthians 13 needs to be read again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Institution or Relationship

When I think of the word institution I think of a building or an organization. It is a place or a set of beliefs that are governed safely from inside. If you are not following the rules of the institution you can be considered unsafe and risk expulsion. Institutions have rules and regulations that help the members know what is expected from the members of the organization. Institutions protect, sometimes forcefully, those on the inside from those on the outside.

Institutions have a hierarchy that puts individuals in roles of leadership over others. Institutions are concerned with the membership of the organization from the top down with little resources for those outside the institution. The rules of the institution are generally established and enforced by those in leadership of the institution.

Occasionally institutions may feel attacked. These attacks can come from its own organization but most time these attacks come from outside the walls of the institution. In answer to these attacks strategies must be implemented to shore up the institution to demonstrate stability and strength.

As I was reading the book The Shack, Mack asks Jesus for his thoughts on the institution of marriage. Jesus responds, “Marriage is not an institution. It is a relationship.” So what is a relationship?

A relationship is the connectedness of two or more people. We are related to others through blood, like interests, affections, race, religion and nationality. For some this relationship involves a deep affection for another that leads to marriage. For some their relationship with God compels them to love others, outside themselves. A relationship is alive. It is not bound by hierarchy or rules. It should be impossible to expel one from the relationship because of infractions.

At the core of all relationships is love. At the core of all institutions is survival.

So when I consider my life and all the shortcomings that I bring into the world, I desire to be surrounded by individuals in a relationship who love me in spite of my sinfulness. Jesus tore down many walls to bring us into a relationship with Him. Walls keep people out, relationships allow people in. Maybe that is why Jesus knocks at a door and calls Himself a gate.

So the bigger question; “Is church an institution or a relationship?”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reflections from Mr. Blue Jay

In our busy lives we sometimes miss the little things and it is wild how these little things are so easily missed, especially if we are so busy being spun by the world. Every morning, around 8 or 9 a Blue Jay comes and visits us. Mr. Blue Jay (Monica named him) will land on my patio furniture and help himself to some peanuts we have put out for him. I am not sure if he loves salted and roasted peanuts better than raw peanuts or unsalted peanuts, I happen to like salted and roasted peanuts so that is what I buy. On some mornings we will forget to put out the peanuts and Mr. Blue Jay has no problem letting us know. If I am reading I will hear his squawking and I must get up or if Monica is watching the news she must get up, but Mr. Blue Jay needs his peanuts. Life stops for Mr. Blue Jay until we meet his needs. Some mornings Mr. Blue Jay will come and watch me put the peanuts out for him, but from a safe distance, he doesn’t like to get too close. I am hoping that some day he will allow me to drink coffee in the backyard as he gets his peanuts. He doesn’t eat the peanuts right away but rather goes and hides them throughout the yard storing them for another day. I think he likes them soft and mushy, gross. In a world that seems to be spinning faster and faster everyday it is great to be able to stop. And just because we stop, the spinning and the spinning of the world and everything in it doesn’t end, life continues even when we take a time out. I pray that God allows you the opportunity to stop and connect with His creation and to spend less time being endlessly spun.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Better Debate

My buddy Robert Gonzalez found this awesome video!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

24 Hours of TBN?

I found this interesting, 24 hours straight of TBN! Can you imagine? I am not sure even Jack Bauer could handle it.

On a weekend in last November Nadia Bolz-Weber (and 28 of her friends who signed up for an hour each) watched 24 consecutive hours of Trinity Broadcasting Network, the cable network which broadcasts the likes of Benny Hinn, Crefllo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and other prosperity preachers. To read an excerpt from her upcoming book on the experience—Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television (Seabury, 2008), go to the Emergent Village.

I'd love to hear how you would do watching 24 hours of TBN

Student vs Youth

I have taken the past month off from writing anything on this blog, but amazingly it still gets some significant hits everyday. That encourages me to continue to write more about how God is using me and what I am learning through His word, through my relationships and through our intimate times of prayer.

Yesterday I received an email newsletter from Group Magazine. I appreciate Group Magazine and the folks who put it all together for youth workers around the world. It is a great resource. In the editoral column Rick Lawrence allowed Christian Smith (author of the book Soul Searching, which I strongly recommend that all youth pastors have on their book shelves) to write the column. In the column Christian Smith asks that student ministry return the label of youth ministry. Along with that students would be called youth and student pastors would be youth pastors.

His arguments in favor of this are that some of the students we work with are no longer in fact students, there may be teenagers in our high school groups that have dropped out of school, therefore they are not students. Another point he makes is what about home-schoolers who are not students in the traditional sense where do they fall?

He concludes with a plea to "Christian youth workers all over the country (you!) to change your “shaping” language—to use language that honors teenagers as whole human persons in God’s kingdom. Please stop calling teenagers students, and ask everyone around you to do the same."

I understand Christian Smith’s concern about how we address our groups. For years I rallied the adults in my church to consider changing their labeling of the kids (their language) to students (my language). These individuals were in the midst of life change as they left children’s ministry and entered into student ministry, especially in light of middle school ministry. Considering what Christian Smith says, our youth groups of middle school and high school are groups of students, they all attend school. For me I see little need to change the language for these groups.

But as I look at college ministries I understand that the language falls short. In college and career groups we do need to examine the language we use to call our groups. Calling this group “youth” falls short, similar to the change we see as an individual moves from children’s ministry into middle school ministry. I agree that calling this group “students” falls short too since many may not be attending school any longer. I also have concerns with labeling this group as “young adults” because this seems to convey a sense of less than a “real” adult. Isn’t that some of the same issues many are feeling in their churches currently?

I do not profess to have the answer. But what I do know is that as we lay out these arguments for and against a specific label we are showing that there are divisions in our churches. If you are at a certain age you are here or there, but few churches move beyond this to encourage all groups to come together in worship. While the children’s ministry and the student ministry are having their group time, adults are gathered for their group time. There is disconnect. Many college and career groups meet separately on Saturday or Sunday night, these individuals may help with student ministry but they do not meet with congregation. There is still disconnect from the gathered body of the church.

I am reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:14; 24-25 the body is not made up of one part but of many. (24-25) But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Let’s consider ways to unite the many parts of the church into one body.