Friday, May 30, 2008

7th Day Abandonists?

When I was in high school, I helped a family friend who was building a house, hang some drywall. He was a nice guy. Loved Jesus. And was a 7th-Day Adventist. He ate funny tasting bacon.

Although I think there are cereals that have been better products of Battle Creek, Michigan...I can get down with their core belief in God/Jesus. I've even heard some evangelical protestants wonder why we don't celebrate the sabbath on the "7th Day" just like we did in the Old Testament?

In response to that question, sometimes you'll hear a shaky defense that "Sunday can be seen as the 7th day, really...because Monday is truly the first day of the work week, etc".

This misses a REALLY important transformation that happened in our church, that affected EVERY aspect of who we are, EVEN what day we celebrate Sabbath on. (take note, we DO still celebrate the Sabbath, as a church...and our lives should reflect that needed rest, and coming together to celebrate what follows, even if we don't like the music or the "message" that day)

In Christ, we see the beginning of God's new creation, and are pointed towards the coming complete restoration of all things. After the resurrection, the early Christian church wanted all that they did/were to point to a celebration of that event, as well as to point to something yet to come.

In celebrating the Sabbath (rest) on Sunday, we are both (at the same time) doing it on the 1st day of the week AND the 8th day of the week. To try and defend that we somehow view Sunday as the 7th day is to miss out on a powerful transformation and aspect of hope to what we involve ourselves in by "attending church together".

1st - We are announcing to all of creation that in Jesus Christ, all "new things" (aspects of God's restoring work in this world) find their beginning. In His Resurrection, God has begun His/our work of "bringing in" the Kingdom of God.

8th - We are also announcing that of the "7 Days" of creation (in Genesis, also echoed in the life of Christ), there is yet an 8th day that will come, removing the veil that separates Heaven and Earth. When Christ's reign and rule that has existed already, will be ultimately and completely revealed to all...and when God's original plan for all creation (heaven AND earth) will be realized.

Boom. I hope that hits you in the way it hit me. See you Sunday....:)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

waiting for Puka...

Over a year ago, Sarah and I were randombly watching a Food Network show on the history of the Hot Dog. They went all over the US finding great places to get the best dogs, etc. We ended up so hungry for a hot dog at the end, we went out and bought some.

On the show, they highlighted a little restaurant in Hawaii known as the "Puka Dog". This place only used the best quality polish sausages. They had fresh baked hot dog rolls that were unique. Instead of simply laying the dog on the bun, like most places...they have one long roll, with a hole in one end ("Puka" means "hole" in Hawaiian). They toast the INSIDE of these rolls, and fill them with the perfect amount of your favorite sauce. They have the traditional mustards and ketchups, but also have a big selection of Island-influenced combinations. Things with pineapple, and mango, and coconut, etc. You can check out their menu here.

Anyway, Sarah and I said....man, if we ever go to Hawaii, we have GOT to try and eat there.

Last September, the world (or at least a few people) watched as I kicked butt on Wheel of Fortune, which included a 6 day vacation to Kauai. We'll finally be going on this trip soon!!!

The resort we'll be staying at is like 5 minutes from the PUKA DOG!!!!!

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to eating there. Maybe daily. Gotta try each sauce, right? And I'm sure it's one of the most cost-efficient places to grab a meal!!!

ps. I know the Wings lost last night. A very close game, that they dominated most of. But I was kinda hoping we'd lose one game in Pittsburgh. It would've stunk to win the cup on Saturday IN Pittsburgh. Being awarded the Stanley Cup in Detroit on Monday will be much more rewarding/exciting. Now all we gotta do is win.... :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

house of candles...

If you're like me, and most people with a decorative-minded spouse, you have several candles throughout your house that will never be lit.

There once was a house full of them. Everywhere you'd look, you would see a candle. Scented candles, brilliantly hand-crafted and colored candles. Candles that looked like sugar dispensers. Candles hung on the walls, and candles floating in big bowls of water. They were everywhere.

They really enjoyed being candles.

Then one day, a blue candle that was hung on the wall realized he had a wick. He asked the white candle next to him what it was for...

"It's decorative." He responded. "Mine is long and white, and still has a firm waxy film over it. I see yours is a bit soft, eh?"

Only then did the blue candle notice that by even moving the wick, he had broken off some of the wax covering it, and the wick was now a thin soft rope. He felt like he was supposed to do something. What could it be? Some time passed.

Later that evening, as the house grew dark, all the candles heard some excitement coming from that room. Word was spread that the blue candle had lit his wick, and was now LIGHTING THE ROOM!!!

No one could believe it. Eventually, the excitement died down.

The next day, the story of what happened finally was discovered. As the blue candle was lit, and full of light and life, and a few others around him had begun to be lit as well....the white candle noticed a blackness beginning to show on the wall near the blue candle, from the thin smoke that was created. The marks looked destructive, and ugly, and he was afraid it might ruin the wall they hung on.

So the few candles that were lit, were forced to be snuffed out.

"Whew" said the white candle. "That was close."

(but everyone knows that once a candle is lit, and the wick is charred, it lights easier next time)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bob Jones buys a new Lake...

For whatever you think of Bob Jones, whether you love him, or think he's a nut...something is happening that you may see in the next month or so. Why might you? Because according to bloggers like this guy, they're saying God is gonna do some crazy stuff specifically between June 22-July 20th. God's apparently a fan of America in the summer. For real though....read some of his blog, it'll make you smile. Or scare the junk out of you. Or make you wonder what in the world is going on in Lakeland, FL. Or glad you don't live near there. :)

I guess it's been on the news, and I had a teen tell me about it last night. That was the first I'd heard anything of it.

Apparently they claim that over 13 resurrections have happened (not the Jewish or early Christianity views of resurrection...just good ole' fashioned dead for 3 days, and now alive stuff)...tons of random healings are going on, and this guy Todd Bentley is at the heart of it all. (or...they might be quick to tell you, God is at the heart of it all) Apparently this is how God brings about his restoration...by starting a new Jesus-club of several thousands in an affluent area and culture who meet pretty much daily to talk about how great this new movement (God, right?) is.

Oh I'm wrong...they also serve in poor places, and have movements in other affluent areas as well.

I won't go into a big tirade on what I think. You could probably guess a bit from my tone so far.

Here's a blog with a lil' video love. You can watch it, and decide whether you want to immediately buy your ticket for Florida in order to get a dose.

My schedule won't allow me...shoot. Good news though...you can join the movement simply by making a donation!! (sowing a seed)

If you haven't heard of it all yet....you probably will. I'm an optimist (even though I'm a bit cynical here), so I believe God can and will use all of this somehow. I just don't think it will come the way Todd sells it. Then again, he's the prophet. Maybe I'm a heretic.

the news....

To quote the news today:

Who do YOU think will win the endless democratic primary?

...thousands died in the horrible earthquake in China 2 weeks ago, and they are still struggling to find hope...

Did you see that Ellen is going to get *gasp* MARRIED?

..24 Million are estimated to have the HIV virus in Africa currently, and many are dying because they lack simple supplies...

Oh my word, gas is at $4 a gallon!!! Guess I should order pizza instead of going out.

..the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and 3rd world countries remain frozen under it...while people continue to die and fight for what little access to life they have...

Did you see who won American Idol? I can't believe it!!

..giant tornadoes swept through Iowa and Minnesota yesterday, killing at least 6...

Did you see that video on youtube???

etc....You don't have to go long to figure out something's wrong here.

Not trying to post blame, but thinking all of this may have something to do with our ability to connect with God's Kingdom on a Sunday morning (or saturday night, or wednesday night, or whatever), and then close our eyes to it for a week.

We're so good at hearing a convincing story...something we should probably do something about....that might even stir us to action....and then moving on.

Why?

How do we respond to this realization?

Monday, May 26, 2008

in memorial...

From "The Day the World Stood Still", 1951. The alien Klaatu is attempting to meet with world leaders, to tell them that their recent discovery of atomic power is a good thing, but their intentions to harness the power for a weapon is a threat to more than just Earth. Because of this, they must stop the direction they're going, or they will be stopped.

Unfortunately, as the countries weren't exactly "getting along", the nations wouldn't agree to come together...each not trusting the motives and locations suggested by the others. Here we find this conversation between Mr.Harley (the government official attempting to offer this meeting to the nations) and Klaatu:

Mr. Harley: Your impatience is quite understandable.
Klaatu: I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.
Mr. Harley: I'm afraid my people haven't. I'm very sorry... I wish it were otherwise.

And later we see a conversation between Klaatu, and a boy, Bobby, who is showing him around Washington D.C., not knowing he's an alien:

Bobby Benson: [indicating grave marker during a visit to Arlington] That's my father. He was killed at Anzio.
Klaatu: Did all those people die in wars?
Bobby Benson: Most of 'em. Didn't you ever hear of the Arlington Cemetery?
Klaatu: No, I'm afraid not.
Bobby Benson: You don't seem to know much about anything, do you, Mr. Carpenter?
Klaatu: Well, I'll tell you, Bobby, I've been away a long time. Very far away.
Bobby Benson: Is it different where you've been? Don't they have places like this?
Klaatu: Well, they have cemeteries, but not like this one. You see, they don't have any wars.
Bobby Benson: Gee, that's a good idea.

I definitely want to honor the men and women, families and friends world-wide that have been impacted by serving a country they believe in, and fighting for justice in situations that are unjust.

But I also think it's a good time for us to think about what our motives are, internationally, nationally, locally, and even in our relationships with others on a daily basis. What things get us "riled up". What would we "fight for"?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

goldie's last day...


Grandma and Grandpa O. bought Addie her first pet last time they visited. She's on a BIG Nemo kick lately, thanks partially to cousin Ella "handing down" a stink load of free stuff....it only made sense.

So a while back, we began allowing two goldfish to take up residence in our kitchen. Not as potential food, mind you, but as actual guests. Sure they make the kitchen smell like fish...but it's worth it to get a smile every once in a while, every time she remembers we have living creatures right here in our house that resemble her cartoon friend. (and Elmo's pet, Dorothy, as well)

She's been enjoying the fish on and off for a while.

Today, while Addie was napping, we found the golder of the two...belly up with a smile on it's face.

Being that Addie is only 21 months old, we decided not to do the whole "burial", with a short lesson on life and death, etc....just yet. We (I) used the net provided for just such occasions, and donated the dollar-forty-something living toy to the Decatur sewer system.

I didn't even say good-bye.

I can protect my daughter from the harsh realities of a world that has been transformed to give humanity what we wanted...our way....for a little while longer.

But someday...I'll have to explain to her growing mind that yes, goldfish die. Lord willing, that will be the hardest lesson I'll have to teach her for a while. But I doubt that will last long.

I pray I can be faithful to the realities of life, while still instilling in my daughter God's promise of a new creation. A "setting things right" that will ultimately allow the "goldfish" in our lives to live forever. Not that it makes us miss the goldfish any less, but it certainly gives us something.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

funny?

As we've talked lately about "final things", I wanted to share a bit more. With the teens lately, on Sunday nights, we had been doing a study on the book of revelation. Mostly the fact that this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ...and NOT a road map for what is to come.

Over the past few months, if I've wanted to have an interesting, and one-sided conversation with someone, all I needed to do was mention the above fact.

Most people are quick to agree that the book is all about revealing Jesus Christ, but then just as quick to say things like:

"Well, it won't matter anyway. The way the world is today, it can't be long before we all get raptured out of here."

"I just hope I'm a part of that 144,000 that God protects."

"I just know that God has blessed our country so far, because we've stood with the Jews. As long as we continue, we should be alright."

"You can be sure I won't be getting one of them microchips inserted under my skin. The mark of the beast, you know."

All of the above statements were said by protestant, "born-again" Christians.

I believe this backs up my previous thoughts, that these things are definitely NOT peripheral aspects of our faith. The way these people are living, and their perceived mission of the Church comes precisely from these areas, and none of these is helpful: (in order, as above)

"I'm focusing on what will happen AFTER I leave this nasty place."

"I'm afraid that I'm going to somehow 'miss out' on God's best."

"God favors our country, but only because we protect the Jews."

"I'm afraid of accidentally supporting the anti-Christ....is that him? or is that him? or is that him? whew, that one's not him, I can support him I guess."

Lord help us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

the evolution of "yes"...

Addison will be 2 in August. The "terrible two's" as some refer to them, began a while ago, and will probably last well beyond the age of 2. But it's not so terrible so far. In fact, even at her worst, she's still pretty easy to love.

For a long time, her vocabulary was limited to pretty much the word "no". Probably because she heard it so much, and eventually learned it's meaning. It's still there.

Over the past year, she's learned more words. Words like "Amen", "Thank you", "Please", "Hockey", "Nemo" and the names of several TV characters, and her friends and family members.

She's even begun to put sentences together: "Where mommy go?", "Thank you daddy!", etc.

Of course, most of these are said sounding like she has a mouth full of cereal...and doesn't have the greatest oration, but we'll get there.

One word we've noticed evolving over the past few months is the word "Yes". It began just like mommy and daddy would say it, "yes".

Over time, she learned the very similar "uh-huh" (accompanied at times by a nod).

Then about a month ago came the "okay", and sometimes "yeah, okay", or simply just "Kay!". We laughed, and thought it was cute.

But now, as you can see here..."yes" has become "Oh". Hoping we can guide her back to the "yes", as a more concrete positive response. (watch to the end, it's worth it.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

more on hope...(little "h")


So with the Redwings making it to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I suppose it deserves at least one post purely dedicated to it.

Most of the people who are saying something about the match-up are quick to bring up the fact that Detroit and Pittsburgh haven't met at all this season, so there's no way to tell how things are going to go. (except that Detroit has faced tougher teams to make it here)

They compare offensive stats, and it's a pretty close match-up.
They compare defensive stats, and Detroit kicks Pittsburgh's butt.

Too bad they haven't met in over 19 months, so we can highlight a recent competition between the two.

Oh wait....they have. Twice actually.

During this seasons' pre-season action...the teams met each other in exhibition games. The first one wasn't much to talk about. It was early in the pre-season, both teams were just warming up. Both used 2nd-string goalies, and just warmed up. Detroit won 1-0.

But the second game, Pittsburgh's pre-season home opener, says something. Detroit had most of their lead players pulled, saving their strength for the first games of the regular season. Pittsburgh had ALL their best players on the ice, showing them off in front of a home crowd.

I'll highlight again, just so you see. Detroit was missing all their best players. (all are still on the team) Pittsburgh had all their best players on the ice. (all are still on the team, plus Hossa) Detroit won a decisive victory that night, 5-2.

Detroit won in shots on goal, penalties (and killing), dominated faceoffs, and even scored a short-handed goal.

Granted, both teams are better today than they were then. But remember - those stats are with Detroit missing Helm, Cleary, Datsuk, Lebda, Drake, Chelios, Rafalski, Kopecky, Franzen, and Holmstrom.

Needless to say. I'm saying Detroit wins the cup. Game On.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

i'm the last to know...

So if you're like the rest of the world, you probably have already heard about KIVA. If you're anything like me, however, you may have heard the word "micro-finance" and thought for sure this was something you had no interest/ability in. After all, "finance" and words associated with it are for people with money. Right?

Turns out, it has nothing to do with investing to make a financial profit.

Also turns out, it's not that difficult to understand.

Also turns out, I really like it...and I think although God has called us to GIVE our money to the poor, this could be a lazy man's (most of us) first easy step in the right direction. Plus there's the whole "teach a man to fish" metaphor...etc.

There are A LOT of people in very poor areas of the world who have dreams of doing something more. But most of the time, it takes a little money to begin some sort of business venture. Money they don't have, but that they would probably make once they've started.

Unfortunately, banks make the same amount of money off a $10,000 loan as they do off 10 $1,000 loans. But they have more fees/labor involved in 10 loans...so they'd rather focus on the larger ones.

This is where companies like KIVA step in. They connect average people like us, who would be willing to loan (at no interest) a specific amount (even just $25!), with people who need a small amount to start a business of their own. Most money is returned within 10 months, and usually you're able to hear the story of what's happened.

Of course, Kiva does end up charging a small percentage themselves, in order to continue running as an organization. But compared to the over 80% interest the local lenders in most of these places charge (and intentions with them)...it's a great option.

Don't have $25 or more to start lending now? Go in on it with a group!! A small group, class, Sunday School class, church, family group, or whatever! Pool some money together, and change someone's life NOW! When you're repaid, you can take your money back and run, or loan it out all over again!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

the mist ahead...


Beliefs about the future can be interesting. Where we get those beliefs can be even more so. Back in the day, I began to read the "Left Behind" series as a young teenager. I thought those books made sense, from what I saw in the Bible. Turns out, they are great fiction, but seriously misinterpret what's written.

For me, that begged the question: Okay, so what DOES the Bible/Christianity say? This is something I've been studying purposefully now for at least 6-7 years. The journey has been very rewarding. It continues today. Many of the things I've gained over the years have surprised me, and they may surprise you as well.

For many, when the subject is raised, we take on a defensive stance. Maybe because we really want our beliefs to stay what they are. Maybe because honestly, we haven't given it all much thought. These issues, because they've not been spoken of much from pulpits in the past 10-20 years, have been relegated to non-issues, or peripherals of our faith.

I'll admit, they can be. Unfortunately. There can be discussions at great length on these things, and we can walk away thinking, "huh, that's kinda neat".

But lately I've been realizing the importance of these things. The lens of Hope that we view all of life through. What we believe Christianity "saves us" to. The Life and Christ that have gone ahead of us, and the Spirit which is here with us today...what are they guiding/drawing us towards?

There are a lot of problems/issues within churches today, and many books published telling us what they are. If you want to write a book, and have it sell well, just bash on the church, and throw a marketable cover on it.

For whatever might be wrong with the church, I believe an important part of being the Church better has to do with reclaiming the Hope for tomorrow, TODAY. We have an incredible gift as God's people, and a power of the Holy Spirit that we are leaving in the pew, if even there. Most of our church either:

1. Hasn't really heard much about God's plan for us and creation, other than fanciful descriptions of Heaven and Greek-influenced descriptions of Hell.
2. Believes life is all about "doing good things" until we can get "raptured" out of here, because everything that matters is "in Heaven".

If all this piques your interest, I encourage you to read the scriptures again. Read a book like "Answers for Chicken Little" by Dan Boone, or "In God's Time" by Craig C. Hill, or even my current read "Surprised by Hope" by N.T. Wright. Talk about these things with others, not because you know exactly what's going on, but because you KNOW that our HOPE (lens) can give life TODAY.

Monday, May 19, 2008

N.T. Wright on beer...

N.T. Wright quote of the day,

“If I say to a friend, “I’ve kept some beer in the fridge for you,” that doesn’t mean that he has to climb into the fridge in order to drink the beer. God’s future inheritance, the incorruptible new world and the new bodies that are to inhabit the world, are already kept safe, waiting for us, not so that we can go to heaven and put them on there but so that they can be brought to birth in this world or rather in the new heavens and new earth, the renewed world…”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

TRINITY (a very silly post)


I used to want to name a daughter Trinity. (no thanks to the Matrix)

But being that today is Trinity Sunday, I wanna give a shout out to the 3-in-1 God.
Recognizing that there is only one God...but that separating different aspects of this God allows us a much deeper understanding/experience of that God.

No way I could describe any of these aspects completely, and even here, it might be more helpful if all of the following words wrapped around in a giant squiggly circle or something, and moved out of your screen towards you, and drew you into them as well....but that'd be one heck of a programming feat.

To the Father -(the Giver) Who is really more "parent" and "source" than Father. All the attributes that make up a good parenting foundation, and so much more than we can put into words. The creator. The source from which all things came, and the authority by which all things are accomplished. The definition of all existence. Who IS Justice. Who's nature is Love. Who does not "send people to Hell", but simply gives us each freedom to respond to His Love. Whether you believe all things came into being in an actual 7 days, or you believe God used other methods over longer periods of time....whether you believe God's gonna "rapture" us all the heck outta here, or you believe God is going to establish His new creation and do something crazy new somewhere around here......you gotta admit...God is a pretty Good source.

To the Son - (the Gift) Who can only do what He sees His Father doing. Who stands as crucified, and yet resurrected ahead of all of creation. Who is present in Spirit, and will one day be completely present again. Who is Lord over all creation, because in Him we see our Hope. Who has given us an example of "human" that is a pretty good guide. Humble, but knowing what's right. Becoming obedient to death. Not so much to show us how to die. Not even to show us that He has power to "defeat" death. But simply to reveal that death does not hold victory over us. Death is not the final word...and anyone who would wield death as a weapon is just as empty as it.

To the Spirit (of Jesus) - (the Giving) Who is never stagnant. Almost impossible to describe, because a description nails something down. Always moving, always transforming, in all ways redeeming, restoring, making things new. Through whom Christ is present with us, and we have Hope for TODAY, instead of simply waiting for a brighter tomorrow. Working in our world, and somehow using and involving us, breathing new life, grace, and love into moments of our lives. Overlooked by a church that would rather "know" what's going on, and abused by a church that wants to "control" what's going on....we yield our notions to you. Move us as you move.


May our Church, and all of creation echo this God more and more...(on earth as it is in Heaven)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

garage sale as community...

If it wasn't so much work, and we had an endless supply of junk we don't need (which seems like we do at times), and we had every weekend free.....I'd like to do garage sales more often. Then I might get to know a few of the people who stop by.

I enjoy the fact that for 6 hours on Friday and Saturday, our home has a stream of visitors who range from the retired doctor with his shirt still meticulously tucked in....to the Jim-Bob type, complete with his painted over Bondo Truck.

I think that's why...even purely sociologically (if I'm able to separate it....probably not), I really enjoy church. Almost every area of life is full of segregation, walls, either socially, culturally, physical, mental, etc. Church is the one place where, in theory at least, ANYONE is welcome to come and sit next to ANYONE. Sure they may talk about so-and-so behind their backs after they leave the building. It might not be 100% fool proof community.

But it offers to be.

It's we, as a church body, who will decide whether we allow ourselves to be immersed in the life offered by it...or whether we will treat it the same way we treat a garage sale. A friendly greeting. Looking for something we need that someone else might have. An exchange. Leaving until the next big "sale".

One thing, anyone could notice these days, but especially pastors I've talked to. People who were "church-goers" used to attend between 50-52 weeks of a year. These days, it seems even people who only come on Easter morning still consider a specific church their "community".

This could probably all be taken the wrong way. I'm not a pastor who's trying to guilt trip my readers into more regular attendance.

But I think there's something to be said for making an effort to be a healthy part of what's going on in the community of Church. I don't think that going to church 52 weeks a year guarantees this. I remember working 8-6, and only getting weekends off. It's nice to sleep in sometimes. But I do believe that going a few times a year, whenever we happen to be up on time, is pretty much garage shoppin'.

What's God's Spirit offers us in His gift of the Church.....we may not fully realize until all of creation is redeemed......but even as it stands today, it's worth more than that.

Whether you're a 52-weeker....or an Easter-only kinda person....how can you help your community of church become more of a community?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

adventures...

So, as I've gotten older (I know, 26 isn't REALLY old, bear with me...it's older than 16), my definition of "adventure" has changed. Of course, being married, and parenting bring their own sets of adventures. But I still have my personal endeavors as well. Here are a few adventures I've had recently:

1. Food Pantry Mondays - Our Church has a great food pantry ministry on a weekly basis. They serve around 200 bundles of food each week for free to people in need. Many of these people are either elderly or handicapped, and can use some help going through the line and walking out to their car. I'm lovin' it. Just a brief moment in each persons' life, but it's definitely been refreshing. My plan is to get our youth involved on Monday's this summer, and I didn't just wanna "show up" with them in June...so I figured I should get involved. I don't try and "shove the gospel" down anyone's throat...but I try to find out something going on in their life to pray for. It's a good exercise.

2. Working with the volunteers, I've gotten to know some of our seniors a bit better. In Iowa, I had a group of seniors that I played dominoes with once in a while. I'd get stomped on. But I really enjoyed hanging out with them. I've missed that aspect of connecting to their generation here so far. But our church's XYZ'ers (seniors) asked me to drive the bus for an outing on Tuesday. We went to a buffet, and over to the Macon County Historical Museum (which is pretty much a Lincoln museum, with a few facts about Macon County cities). Honestly, it's kinda like a spiritual discipline here. This is a generation that I don't just "automatically" want to spend time loving among...not cause I don't want to...but probably because I'm a selfish creature, and popular culture tells us they don't have much to offer. The wealth of wisdom, stories of life, and love that comes from years (or judgment that comes from years)...is good to spend time with.

3. Had my 2nd official meeting as a member of the Decatur Parking and Traffic Commission. Apparently, the parking situation in Decatur is no way to make a profit lately. They're losing money, and looking for ideas to at least break even. I learned a TON this week, including:
- If you're handicapped, and live in busy area, you can apply for a handicapped space in front of your house! We approved of 2.
- If an intersection gets more than 1.5 accidents per million vehicles that pass through, they look into a stop sign or light. We approved one sign.
- Even if our city raises parking rates downtown, we'll still be REALLY cheap.

4. I called it. Detroit won one game in Dallas, and will end things this Saturday at 12:30 CST on NBC. YOU need to watch. No excuse. And don't get me started on ALL the BAD CALLS throughout game 4. Game ON.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jesus and Random Thoughts...

Been pretty stoked about something lately, and still figuring out how to put it into words. I'll try here. You may have heard this long ago...or you may have assumed it already....in which case, you may be less excited about it. But if you're like me, you need to hear this at some point.

When most pastors I've heard preach about Jesus being crucified, dying, and rising from the grave....they do stress the importance of His being alive today. But they usually say something like "he's STILL alive today!" (bringing on the obligatory "Amen!" shout from the congregation)

Random thought: Why do they make pipes to carry
water out of materials that corrode due to water?

By using the word "still", it implies that Jesus was simply revived, or...like Lazarus, came "back to life" as he was before dying. If that's the case...why get any more excited than they got when Lazarus came back?

But we know that Jesus came back in a physical form, they were able to touch His wounds, and to walk along the road with Him, mistaking Him for a gardener even. He broke bread with them, and as soon as they recognized Him, He "became invisible from them"(greek). This implies that Jesus' attributes after the resurrection included both physical AND spiritual elements...as never before.

As Christians (and as Jews of that time), we believe there will come a day where God will give each of us new bodies. Paul tries his best to describe these bodies in 1 Corinthians 15 (read it, it's pretty awesome). We believe this will happen when God brings about His completion/restoration/final redemption, creating a new Heaven and a new Earth.

So why connect that with Jesus' resurrection? It appears that what we believe WILL HAPPEN to all of us SOMEDAY when God brings in the Kingdom of God (God's reign and rule)....HAS HAPPENED here in Jesus!! It is the Kingdom of God breaking through into our world, showing us what it will be....and beginning the work/journey of ushering in God's Kingdom.

To those of us trying to figure out when/how the "apocalypse" is going to begin...or waiting for the "rapture" to happen so we can finally rid ourselves of all this physical world.....this tears apart those thin twigs, and slaps a solid log of hope down on 'em. IT HAS BEGUN. HERE. NOW. BECOME INVOLVED. Seek areas of being involved in God's redeeming work, not just humanitarian aid, but actual, Holy Spirit sourced living. IT'S HAPPENING.

Random thought: The Vatican now says it's okay for Catholics
to believe in Aliens. Gotta love that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

post-Wheel of Fortune...

So it's been a while since the fame and fortune of "Wheel of Fortune" hit our lives. Looking back, there are moments I remember the most:

- The commercial break before the Final Round, where I was at the same time incredibly excited, and freaked out of my mind with the pressure.

- My wife running out to me after winning that Final Round, and celebrating with her in that short moment, for all that had happened. :)

- Pat Sajak making some really awkward Jewish joke as the show was ending, and everyone was applauding. I don't remember the joke, but it involved Hawaii, and the punch-line was "Shalom-ha".

- Walking the beach at Santa Monica Pier, wanting to tell SOMEONE, ANYONE that I'd just won Wheel of Fortune!!! Knowing we were going to keep it a secret until it aired a month later.

So where are we now? Well, with the new house, new car, and college funds we've set up for the kids.....things are going pretty swell.

Oh wait....

No worries....we're still normal people. We paid off our high interest debt (credit cards mainly), and were given a second chance at a good financial foundation. Stuff we learned years ago through Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover", but never thought we could do it.

Tried out for "Deal or No Deal" to try and take care of the low interest debt...but it appears we'll have to deal with that the way every American does. One month at a time.

The message here? COLLEGE AGED (and others, I suppose) PEOPLE LISTEN UP. DON'T DO CREDIT CARDS. DO WITHOUT. The sacrifices you make now will help you enjoy the money you win on a game show later in life. I promise. :) hehe.

ps. The Wings won again last night....IN DALLAS....making it 3-0 in the series. Have the playoffs even started yet???

Monday, May 12, 2008

why tonight?

Why watch tonight's Game 3 between Dallas and Detroit at 7pm CST on VERSUS?

Because when something like this happens after the final buzzer of the game...


You KNOW the next game will be interesting.

(YES, Osgood probably started it by trying to butt Ribeiro with his stick earlier, and NO, neither Osgood or Ribeiro were suspended, although both were fined an "undisclosed amount")

This game moves the play to Dallas, where the Stars have a better chance. Detroit is still without Franzen (our top scorer) as he sees a doctor in Detroit today. I say Detroit wins one of the 2 games in Dallas this week, then wins Game 5 in Detroit on Saturday to close the series.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

alma mater's

(in no particular order)

To my wife - an incredible mother. A natural. A stay at home type. You seem to have been born for, wired for, created for....this. Heck, you've mothered me for almost 9 years in many ways. Our daughters are blessed to have you, and I'm incredibly thankful to have you by my side as we raise them. You are filled with love, even in the moments where we both wish we could lock ourselves in the basement for a few minutes....you are amazing. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

To my mom - an incredible mother. I know I give you heck. I'm supposed to. I'm your son. But seriously, to have raised 5 kids as incredible as us through everything life threw at you....thank you. You taught us that no matter what happens, church is important, and the family of God is a pretty good one to belong to. (I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood....) You wouldn't be stopped. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

To the surrogates - incredible examples. JoLynn Campbell, Tina Delbridge, Kim (Rick's wife), Denise Boone, Jill Nicol, etc. etc. etc. You were there in times where I needed a "motherly type". Teenagers don't pay attention to or value their own parents enough...and you were there to remind me that I'm loved. To those reading this, be sure and love someone as your child, even though they might not be. The world needs more who are willing to give that kind of love. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

To God - an incredible God. You often get overlooked, as far as nurturing motherly-type descriptions. But yet...they're there. How many times you've taken me under your "wing"...even when I leave once everything was going my way. How many times your door has stayed open, even though I might not be the best son. You've taught me to love, and given me the ability/hope with which to do it. You are making me a new creation, and using me for yours. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

ps. The Wings won last night. Awjeah. 2-0 baby.

Friday, May 09, 2008

they pay attention?

So the N.T. Wright book is good. The Wings kicked butt last night. Hoping the rest of the series goes this well. The playoff beard continues to grow. I'll have to make sure I post a picture before I shave, for those of you who know me, but don't live nearby. It's quite itchy.

But the main post here is....my daughter pays attention to me. Now, I know she can learn things that we teach her: please, thank you, up, down, how to use a spoon, etc. But she's finally begun just doing things that she sees us doing. For better or for worse.

(I'd say for better on this one, Sarah would say for worse)

When finished with her cereal yesterday, with only milk left in the bowl, she began saying "dink, dink" (which means drink, obviously). Thinking she was thirsty, I gave her a cup with juice in it. She said "no", and grabbed her bowl with both hands...lifting it to her mouth slowly, and began sipping the milk out of the bottom.

We never taught her this. Mommy thinks it's gross, finding it more desirable to dump the cereal-tainted milk down the drain. But daddy thinks it's refreshing, and good stewardship of milk to gulp down the flavored milk once the cereal is gone. Over time, she's apparently made her own judgment here by watching Sarah and I.

Addie agrees with daddy on this one. :) Here's an example from this morning....

video

It's very cute. But it definitely makes me want to be more purposeful about what my daughter sees...whether in person, on tv, the internet, etc.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

____ is like ______....


JESUS HAS BEEN RESURRECTED. THE TOMB WAS FOUND EMPTY.

But Christianity has GOT to be more than just proving that Jesus's body can't be found, right?

But why?


"Using historical arguments for Jesus's bodily resurrection as ultimate ground for the truth of Easter is like lighting a candle to see if the sun has risen. The curtain must be drawn back, and when the light pours in through, changing our perspectives on everything...it's not that we don't value the candle anymore, but simply is has been overtaken by the larger reality from which it borrowed." (paraphrased from "Suprised by Hope", N.T. Wright)

Mmmm...now that's a tasty simile.

Have you heard any good simile's recently? (a comparison using "like" or "as")

Tell me...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

cheesy illustrations...


I'm doin' 'em all the time, in every area of life it seems. Sometimes I get a good one. But here's one from N.T. Wright, that I had to share.

In speaking of "resurrection", the Jewish people believed that all of humanity would be physically resurrected someday way in the future, when God was going to do what God was going to do.

For Christ to be physically resurrected NOW, ahead of what was to come, FORCED them to change some beliefs about waiting for God to do something. One person, ahead of all the others. Jesus wasn't the Messiah they thought. But Jesus was the Messiah. God WAS DOING something. They were to be involved in it. This was the beginning of the Christian church...

"...a rich old member gives to a college a wonderful, glorious painting that simply won't fit any of the spaces available in the college and that is so magnificent that eventually the college decides to pull itself down and rebuild itself around this great and unexpected gift, discovering as it does so that all the best things about the college are thereby enhanced within the new structure and all the problems of which people had been aware are thereby dealt with...
...there must be some point at which the painting is received by the existing college...to enable the college officers to make their momentous decision. The donor doesn't just come along, blow up the college unasked, present the painting, and then say, "Now figure out what to do." "

The new creation has begun...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

humbling...and encouraging...

So this morning I posted a few thoughts on Anne Rice's new book, "The Road to Cana". Didn't think much of it. Random youth pastor in nowhere, IL writes a random blog post. Said some things I liked, and some things I didn't like. So?

Then I received a comment on my blog. From who? Anne Rice. Holy cow. Really? Surely it's just a fan, posting on her behalf...(warning, you're about to see how nerdy I can get)

Checked Google analytics to see where my few visitors were from this morning...one IP Address was from near Palm Desert, CA.


So I checked the book cover to see where she's from: Rancho Mirage, CA How far is that from where the signal came from?

Looks like it's legit, folks. Which was a big shocker to me.

Authors are actual humans who interact with the rest of us, and listen to feedback from regular people? Wow. For some reason I don't think all authors are like this.

Anne, if you for some reason read my blog twice....thanks for the comment, and for reading my thoughts. I really enjoyed the first 2 books, and am looking forward to the 3rd installment as well.

Someday, when I publish my amazing best-seller....I'll have to let you blog about the part you didn't like too. haha....seriously though...thanks for being real. It's encouraging.

Rice - errr - oh no...


Just finished Anne Rice's new book about the year of Jesus' life just prior to his ministry as a Rabbi. Overall, it was a great book. Albeit a work of fiction, there are great glimpses into what may have been the personality, and even the inner monologue of Jesus...as He attempts to reconcile what people have been saying about Him, with who He is becoming, etc.

I really enjoy the focus she gives His character on wanting to spend time in quiet. Away from the bustle of the village, away from the voices of expectation, just in reflection. Also, the characteristic of justice. Even with His love for "getting away", when confronted with an unjust situation, he reacts without much hesitation, and without regard for what people may think. A reminder that "righteousness" has a lot more to do with righting an unjust thing, than simply "being good".

Compliments being said, I really think that she should've stopped before chapter 22. There are some things better left unsaid. Some situations better left in the imagination.

Jesus has been wandering in the wilderness for 40 days after His baptism. Some of the internal monologue of chapter 21 is quite good. But all of a sudden, she jumps into a completely different literary work it seems. We see a weak, hungry, frail, and alone Jesus all of a sudden involved in a quick-witted bantering session with satan. Now I'm all about creative license, but to have Jesus saying things like:

"Careful....if you become too angry you may dissolve in a puff of smoke. "

Anne Rice....having flashbacks of your vampire-fiction days maybe?

She then flies through the first few miracles of Jesus with the same amount of thought, it seems. My recommendation - read the book....stop after 21, and just read the Bible if you really need to know how it all turns out.

Monday, May 05, 2008

questions...

Recently gave a survey to our (about 30) teens, to see what questions they had....or what questions they were facing from friends at school. Here are a few of their responses:

Do people who never got a chance to know Jesus go to hell?

How do we know we're "right"?

What happens to people in other religions?

If God is so glorious, why does he send people to hell?

Why is it so wrong to be gay, if God wants us to be happy?
(and why does he make "them"?)

Can you talk to Jesus like your best friend, or more reverently, or both?

When is God coming back? (and many questions about what that looks like)

What's so special about me?

Heaven? Hell?

What proof is there that God is real?
...ETC.

Along with "why is ____ a sin?", several teens who don't seem to have any questions, and a few who were very open with the fact that they couldn't care less right now.

To anyone who thought youth ministry was all about pizza and basketball....now you know.

Please be in prayer for these teens....and for the conversations that will come from their willingness to ask these difficult questions...and praying that they'll be just as willing to talk about the answers...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

...on earth as it is in heaven...

Began reading N.T. Wright's book "Surprised by Hope" this past week. Only a few chapters in...but really dig it. A lot of what he's saying so far isn't so much a BRAND NEW idea, but the way he presents them, and the biblical scholarship he's got backing him up...it smells good.

We all recognize the hope that comes from believing that "Heaven" is ultimately going to happen. But for so many, the Christian faith comes down to "doing good stuff until finally we are relieved of this earthly body/world and finally float off to the city of gold". (paraphrased)

For those people...this world and the lives we live here, and how we live in these bodies holds little to no significance. "Surprised by Hope" is a message to a church that is simply waiting for "Heaven" that the KINGDOM IS NOW.

The importance of a bodily (physical) resurrection, that is very much connected to these bodies we live in. The fact that when Jesus rose physically from death, it was the Kingdom of God (the reign and rule of God) breaking through into TODAY. The fact that God will someday restore all things, creating a new Heaven and a new Earth...and connecting these things will be the New Jerusalem (as described in Revelation).....and that it's not so much about the physical description of all these things, as it is the "reign and rule of God" finally....whew. I get a bit excited.

I still have some questions, that he sounds like he will address later in the book. Questions about cremation, about where those who have passed on might be "right now" (which he's already addressed in another book at length), etc...and really looking forward to his words of how all of this transforms our Hope.

But to realize that, beginning with Christ's resurrection, the Kingdom of God has begun "on earth as it is in Heaven"...is definitely to be surprised by Hope. This life is NOT about waiting to die so we can finally get on with Heaven.

It's about joining the reign and rule of God in His redemptive, restoring work where we can. The world we live in is broken and fragile. Feed the hungry, care for the orphan, and for the widow. Visit those in prison. Heal the afflicted. Free the slave. Live from the Spirit in our daily relationships with one another. Love. Forgive.

When we do this, the Kingdom breaks through into NOW. The more we as individuals, and as the Church realize this....the more we can join with God in His work. Now THAT is Hope.

Friday, May 02, 2008

a good week.


It was almost TOO easy. Detroit has toppled the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-0 sweep. Last night wasn't even a match up. With a final score of 8-2, it was a bit ridiculous. I'm glad we're heading to the Western Conference Finals (probably against Dallas)....but I'm also a bit disappointed.

This is the first time we faced Colorado in the playoffs since 2002. Back between 1996 and 2002, the rivalry was FIERCE. Huge fights, double overtimes, and hockey that made your blood pump just watching it. So this year, when it was released that we were to face off once more.......naturally, I got excited.

...and this isn't me just being arrogant because the Wings are the best team ever...but seriously, how did these guys even make the playoffs? I was hoping for rivalry. All we got was a few practices between Quarterfinals and Finals.

Meanwhile....having a great week! Finished up my first month of curriculum for CREDO Magazine (see link on the right). Usually I just write devos for them, but they gave me a chance at this....we'll see if they can use anything I wrote. Had a great night with the youth wednesday night talking about "Identities". There are so many of them who define themselves by things or life situations...and I'm praying they heard something we talked about.

And finally, this weekend!! Today I get to go down to Greenville College and help teach a youth ministry class. A little intimidated here...cause I'm not sure how much I'm doing right. But God can use it. My brother and his wife are coming to visit tonight, and we're all headin' up to see my sister graduate tomorrow from ONU!!!! WOOT. Then Sunday, it's back to Decatur for Sophie's dedication service!! (10:45 at Moundford, you're invited!) Followed by an evening baptism service!!! (not of Sophie....but some great friends at church....6pm...come to this too!)

Next weekend....Western Conference Finals...game on.