Saturday, January 31, 2009

Legacy or Destiny

For some life is about leaving something behind, a way to be remembered by family and friends. For others it is about insuring that they will have lived the right life and maybe prayed the prayer to reach the pearly gates. But which is most important: the legacy or the destiny?


Have you ever considered what people will say about you once you have died? Will I have done the things that God wanted me to do? Will I have been good to others around me? Will I be missed, or just forgotten? Will I leave anything that will help make my kid’s lives easier?

What about in the future, will I be remembered? Will there be a plaque commemorating some contribution I gave to society? Will I have a building named after me? Or will I just be another name in the Ellis book of genealogy on a family tree?

I have a great uncle, Rube Ellis who played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1909 to 1912. He also played for the some minor league teams before and after his major league career. I have a couple of his baseball cards and a large poster of one of his cards hanging in my office. One significant piece of history I know about my great uncle is that he played a game against Babe Ruth in Brea, California. The ball field was located where the Ralph’s on Imperial and Brea Blvd. is located today. Besides that ball game, his career stats and some family information I know little about my great uncle. But Rube’s memory lives on in some baseball books and web sites.


Have you ever considered life after death? What happens next? Does your body just become worm food? What happens to your soul?

I have been considering the “what next” question. Maybe I should start with the “what first” question. Are we only living our lives in expectation of life after death? Is it just about getting to heaven? And if heaven is the goal why should I be concerned about the here and the now?

When I consider reaching a destination I think of the journey we find ourselves on. Half the fun of a road trip is the car ride. Reaching the destination is sometimes anticlimactic (consider the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation). But for the journey of “what next” I do not know if that is a destination we will see in our lifetime. But it should be a great road trip! Do not get me wrong there is a destination but it may be different than we have thought (read Revelation 21).

So, which is most important the legacy or the destiny?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Help Wanted?

This morning I saw this great picture on Brad Ruggles’ blog as he talked about the tensions that we are facing in this crazy economic time. Many churches and nonprofits (which I now can say I have worked for both) are cutting jobs or not replacing open positions. I have been out of work for the past four months and have been busy trying to land the right job in youth ministry. They have been very few openings that were right for me. It has been frustrating.

So today I have an interview with a retail grocery story. I spent almost 30 years in the grocery industry, and most all of those years in a management position. I really enjoyed those years in the store working with others and serving the needs of those that shopped in my store. Even though it is not a ministry job I looking forward to the possibility of returning to my former career.

This might not be a job where I plan all-nighters or pizza parties. This might not be the job where I create messy games or play egg blow. But this job is an opportunity to meet people, where they are, living out their daily lives. Working in a church sometimes limits our connection with those outside Christianity. It is my hope that I can land this job and connect with people inside and outside Christianity.

Please consider praying with me that God opens just the right door to just the right career.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We ain’t seen anything yet!

Next Wednesday night Lost returns to TV and I am very excited. The past seasons have been the attempts of the castaways to get off the island. This season the Oceanic 6 are attempting to return to the Island. But the Island has disappeared and all that left the Island must return, but who does that really include? What about dead Locke?

In the Orange County Register today a columnist wrote that he has solved the mystery of Lost.

For me, the light bulb finally went on when Ben climbed down a ladder at Jacob's behest.

In Genesis, Jacob had a dream of a ladder that reached between heaven and Earth. The "Lost" island is a Jacob's Ladder for the post-Einstein world.

Rather than a ladder to heaven, it is a gateway to other dimensions, including the afterlife. Hence, the appearances of many dead people to the passengers, as well as the resurrections of Locke and others.

Jacob, as the ruling being of the Island, holds the key to the link between Earth and the extra-dimensional worlds.

Another thought I read was that the survivors are stuck between Heaven and Hell, with Jacob’s ladder being blocked somehow by Ben. Consider that Richard and the Others do not age, and no babies are born on the island.

It’s all amazing and who knows what will be the actual truth! All I know is that this season of Lost will be great! We ain’t seen anything yet!

In the Bible we read the story of Jacob’s dream and a vision of a ladder that reaches to Heaven.

Genesis 28:12 He (Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

God appears to Jacob and gives Jacob a promise that includes land, descendants and continuing protection through all the wanderings that will follow and all peoples of the earth will be blessed through his descendants.

In the New Testament Philip encounters Jesus and he believes immediately that the Messiah has arrived. Philip tells Nathanael to come see Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael responds, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”(John 1:46)

Later Jesus tells Nathanael "You shall see greater things than that. I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1:50c-51)

Encountering Jesus is life changing. We have an idea of what is in store for us but I really think that “We ain’t seen anything yet!”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chastity, Marriage and Babies

In Mark Driscoll’s Blog today he talks about the Spiritual Discipline of Chastity. Now I will admit being married has helped me not worry too much about this topic. But there is a phenomenon happening in our culture (you know I love exploring cultural things) that has been shaping marriage, or rather when individuals get married.

Driscoll shares some interesting statistics:

Statistically in the U.S., the number of unmarried adults has continually increased, with 36 percent in 1970, 39 percent in 1980, 41 percent in 1990, and 44 percent in 2000. In 2006, for the first time in history, the number of unmarried people exceeded 50 percent of the adult population. Both men and women are waiting longer to marry for the first time; the median age for men went from 23 in 1950 to 27 in 2003, and the median age for women jumped from 20 to 25 in that same period.

But the other bit of information that Driscoll shares is that individuals are more sexually active at a younger age.

A 2006 report on NPR said that 80 percent of Americans are sexually active by the age of 20, and only 20 percent of women marry as virgins. Furthermore, cohabitation has increased 72 percent between 1990 and 2000, and the cohabitation rate increased ten-fold between 1960 and 2000. Fully 41 percent of Americans will cohabitate at some point during their life.

From a Reuters article in 2004 fewer teens were getting pregnant but more unwed women were having babies. 45% of all pregnancies were to unwed mothers. 12% of all pregnancies were to teenagers (compared to 15%in 1990).

So what does this all mean? Chap Clark in his book Hurt shares that adolescence continues longer in life than in past generations. For my generation you were fully out of adolescence by the time you reached 18. Today Clark states that there is a stage of life called post- adolescence which lasts for some individuals until they are 28. Is it an unwillingness to commit the issue? How does maturity play into this?

I am seeing more and more young people getting married later in life. I have had to encourage those that are living together and enjoying all the benefits of marriage to consider getting married. It was hard enough for my generation to attempt to stay virgins until 18, imagine the added difficulty to stay a virgin until 22, 25 or even 28. There are so many outside influences that work to destroy whatever foundation we have built into the lives of our sons and daughters. As a youth pastor it requires a renewed effort, filled with creativity, each year to share again the benefits of living a chaste life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Wind of Change

Yesterday I was reminded of the movie “Mary Poppins.” Now I know that you may be thinking “Why and how does Mary Poppins come up in everyday conversation?” In the story two children decide to write up their ideas on what would make a perfect nanny for them only to have their stern father tear up their list and throw it into the fireplace where a strange wind carries it up the chimney. The next day there is a change in the weather, the wind changes direction and blows all the unqualified nannies away. But the wind of change also brings in the most qualified nanny: Mary Poppins.

We live in a world that is changing, and for some this change is happening rapidly and is an unwelcome intruder threatening to take away safety and security. Many have been saving and investing in various money market accounts: CD’s, T Bills, property, stocks, and numerous others ways to grow their money. But many have lost the wealth they have stored up for themselves, money that would ensure a simpler life during retirement. The questions become, “Who do you trust, the bank or God?” and “Where are you storing your treasure?”

We live in a world that is changing, and getting smaller. We can connect with people around the world and talk to them in real time. Social media (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and others) have created a world where our neighbor can be another continent away. We hear about the evils happening to people groups, sometimes even before the world’s media pick it up (example Dafur, Somli Pirates and the attacks in India). We can connect with our favorite author or musician and discover they are people with hopes and dreams, just like us. And we get to read, discover and share ideas and thoughts. How will we deal with the injustices around the world?

We live in a world that is changing. Next week Barrack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th president. 140 years ago the Civil War was ending and through the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, slavery was abolished. 100 years later our country faced civil unrest as African Americans fought for equal rights. That was 40 years ago. 40 years ago African Americans were given the right to vote. 40 years, a generation later, Barrack Obama is president. Isn’t it ironic that Inauguration Day is the day after Martin Luther King Day?

We live in a changing world. We can fight it, and sometimes we should, or we can support it.

Over 2,000 years ago a man was executed on a Roman cross, this in itself was not unusual and many in the Roman Empire faced a similar punishment. But this man was thought to be the savior of the world, but then he died. For his followers this death was unexpected, they believed he was the son of God, indestructible. But he died.

Most all of you know the story but three days after he was laid to rest in a tomb where he rose from the dead and was physically alive again. He beat death! This is the resurrection. I have been reading through N.T. Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” and Wright explains that this unexpected resurrection was a culturally changing event. It changed history. Consider that in a very short period of time the day of worship changed from Saturday to Sunday.

Change is not new, we have all read our history books on movements and culture shifts, some have been good and some have been bad. But God is in charge of the wind and the wave, he is in control and he is allowing the winds of change to happen in our world.