Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lent as invitational humility...

Maybe you've run into someone in the midst of a public sacrifice. Someone who announces without prompting how difficult these 40 days are going to be, because they're already missing ________ so much. (they've given it up for Lent, after all).

Maybe you've run into someone who thinks the Lent tradition is old school. It's too "Catholic" (the branch of Christianity, not "world-wide"). Cutting edge post-post-moderns can do just fine without these types of traditions thank you very much.

Or maybe someone in the middle. Some cloistered monk of a soul who thinks people should celebrate Lent, but only privately; hiding any sign of sacrifice or self-denial at all. They make fun of the 13 year olds who dramatically give up caffeinated beverages or boy bands or chocolate, etc...and thank God they've "matured" to the point where they can do the whole thing privately, like any good Christian should.

I'm not a fan of any of these, but at the same time, I recognize especially during this Lent season - my own humanity leads me towards celebrating even a holy season like this with fallen motives.

The Truth stands, however, that no matter where we stand during these 40 days, we all stand in need of God. We look forward to the Celebration of Easter together, all on the same ground, eager for Jesus Christ and the work accomplished / being accomplished in Him.

We are invited during this season to purposefully remember. To remember both as individuals and as a community. To recognize our place before God. To recognize our oneness with each other. To recognize a beautiful tension of finding ourselves as sinners transformed as saints. To give of ourselves in a way that leads to a life deepened in relation to God and others.

To stop writing such hippy-ish sounding blogs. :)

It all seemed so much simpler on the felt-boards...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Forgiveness vs. Escapism

"Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me."

I remember being young (I know, 27 is totally not at old, thanks). When I was a kid, and I'd do something stupid and selfish, or something I knew was wrong. Not simply because "mom didn't want it done", but something that actually offered to injure a relationship with a family member or a friend at school. I would feel horrible. But sometimes, something like that would be done, and I wouldn't get caught. You know the feeling of waiting, wondering if you'll get caught?

Then that moment, where some other kid gets the blame/punishment. Or better yet, no one notices at all and/or chalks it up to randomly happening. In either case, you know you've escaped. There will be no punishment. Maybe you feel bad for the poor kid that got blamed, but you figure it's better than you - and he probably did SOMETHING to deserve it right? You've escaped. It's as if it never happened. Freedom of guilt = freedom of conscience, right?

I think sometimes we're tempted to treat the sin/broken relationship we've been forgiven of that way. At least, I see it in teens sometimes, and it seems a popular place in the faith journey. I have been forgiven of my sins, and I do a sort of arm pump saying, "Yessssss!" I've escaped. I'm free from the punishment. My focus is on my freedom/separation from punishment.

But the forgiveness God offers us is more than that. Not that it's completely easy to understand/grasp. But that Jesus would willingly offer His sinless self out of love to carry our sins. That God would offer His son (however that all works) as a sacrifice. Thankfully, He was also resurrected so that the one who bore our sin now stands as our Lord and represents us before the Father.

However it all works, and however it all can be talked about in words - I'm grateful for the illustration of Love that communicates. I pray that I can be faithful to the Love that's been shown to me, and that I might even be used to illustrate that kind of love to others...

May we remember this week....we have been forgiven, not "let off the hook". There's a lot of Love going on here. :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prayer as Activism

So Tuesday was a refreshing day in many ways. We spent time together with pastors from all over our conference, focusing on prayer for specific things, and talking about what prayer is. Some words were a good reminder.

It was pointed out that many times when we think about prayer, it's a relational thing. People ask, "How's your prayer life?" and by that question they mean, "How's your relationship with God?" or, "How close are you with God lately?", etc.

We think, "I need to work on spending more time in prayer." Usually, that ends up meaning something like, "I feel distant or disconnected from God somehow, and want to work more purposefully and devote more time to building that connection."

There's nothing wrong with these thoughts. Prayer IS relational, and the more time/frequency we spend drawing close to God in prayer can be a catalyst to great Kingdom living.

But prayer is also functional. If we believe that God can move through the fabrics of this world, to give confidence, to give hope, to give love, to reveal Himself in our hearts and minds - then we have to believe God can move in physical ways also. If God can impact the tangible world in any way at all, then He can impact the world in ANY way. We believe prayer tugs at the fabric of both the physical and supernatural realms (or possibly the realm that is both as one). Even if we can't understand every aspect of it, and some things that happen offer to be explained away scientifically - we believe God can be, and is often involved.

I need to do more of this kind of praying. Proclaiming God's Kingdom as existing in the world around me on a daily basis. In my home, in my car, at my workplace (even though it's a church), when I'm out and about, etc. God has initiated His Lordship over all creation, and is calling us to proclaim it not only in deed, but in word. Specifically, spoken word. God's a big fan of saying things out loud. He spoke in Genesis, and things came into existence. He spoke throughout the Gospels, and healing came.

Can I pray silently/reflectively/meditatively in my head, just between God and myself? Yes. And this kind of prayer is important. But it's also very easy for me. What I need to work on, and as part of my LENT commitment to being less socially appropriate - I will pray out loud more often. Look out creation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"People Who Drink Alcohol Are Stupid"

Subtitled: "How NOT to talk about your faith."

So this past Monday I'm in Greenville, IL. A city that has been dry (alcoholically) for a long time. When in line to pay for my gas, I hear the cashier tell the man in front of me in an excited tone, exactly when they will begin selling alcohol. His response?

"I'm not excited. You think I'm excited? Tell me one good thing that's EVER happened because of alcohol."

She just kinda stared at him in disbelief, finally responding: "Um, I'll get paid?"

It was tempting to join the conversation, but as he continued to rant and throw his nose in the air (with just enough religious elitism to make you throw up a bit), it was obvious there would be no reasoning. What did I want to say?:

"Um, how about historical data that shows many people stayed alive by killing bacteria using beer/wine? How about every professional sport you enjoy watching, and probably many other aspects of our lives that are funded in large ways by alcohol profits? How about recognizing that alcohol as a product is not where the problem solely lies?"

I think most alcohol that I've ever tried tastes gross. I do think it should be less available. As a Free Methodist, I've committed to a lifestyle that is free from it. But I also recognize that yelling at a gas station cashier didn't look a lot like Jesus.

As he walks out, and I hand the cashier my card she says, "*&$, wonder what his problem is?"

My response: "God knows."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

Literally - "Fat Tuesday"

The day before Ash Wednesday - the beginning of the season of Lent. Traditionally, the day you enjoy whatever it is you're going to be sacrificing during Lent to make room for God in your life. The painful thing is - how much humanity embraces Mardi Gras - compared to how much humanity embraces Ash Wednesday.

Many evangelical churches even - have lost some connection to the Church calendar, simply as a reaction of "not wanting to look Catholic" (as if it's a religion other than Christian?), and as if they're history is somehow not our own? How many Jesus-seeking, Easter celebrating Christians will go out and get free pancakes today, or enjoy indulging a bit more than usual; and tomorrow will simply resume life as normal?

We are a Mardi Gras culture. A people that love to indulge. We love to party. We do not enjoy remembering that we are human/dust. We cringe to remember that we are limited. We want to be heroes. We want to be above natural limitations. We want to pretend we control our lives.

I guess that's a lot of "we" statements.

Not sure what I'm trying to say, other than I wish Mardi Gras was the day we'd forgotten about.

But that might be weird. An "Ash Wednesday Party" probably would be awkward:

"Hey." "Hey." "Nice ashes." "Thanks." "So how are you celebrating Lent?" "I'm giving up cheese." "Whoa, that's intense." "Looking forward to Easter, for sure...."

So maybe no parties or beads for Wednesday. I'm not against Mardi Gras - as long as it happens with the perspective of Ash Wednesday and a 40 day journey towards celebrating Easter as the focus. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. Then again, I suppose waking up with a hangover will remind many people on Wednesday that they are limited/human.

May we love those around us by speaking of our need for the "other" this week...

Monday, February 23, 2009

fire retardant

So I finally watched the movie recommended by some, warned against by others, made fun of by me up to this point simply for having Kirk Cameron in it: Fireproof

Wow. This was really in theaters?

Problems on many levels. I'll leave the movie critiquing for others. Bad acting, writing, lines, characters, scenes, etc. But that much is obvious.

So let's focus on why Christians would be motivated to mass-market a movie like this in main-stream theaters? It definitely doesn't do anything positive in regards to convincing the world we Jesus-followers can make a decent movie. So why, then?

1. To watch in Sunday School - maybe. There are some good reminders that love is purposeful, takes work, and Marriage is a covenant, not a contract. I can get down with those messages, although I'd rather just have those statements made, and study scripture and real life stories.

2. To watch as a married couple - eh, maybe. Reminds me to do something nice for my wife once in a while, because my heart is in it. Made us feel like we have great communication skills, especially in the beginning where even the slightest thing set them both off. Ridiculous. Though I'd still rather simply talk about these concepts directly, without watching a painful acting job.

3. To save a marriage in trouble - hah....not likely. Remember the guy Kirk Cameron was playing in the beginning of the movie? Do you think his character would have said, "Hmm...Fireproof...maybe my wife and I should watch that together cause ____ recommended it would help our relationship." I think a marriage in trouble is where accountability and a supportive connected community seeking Christ together comes in....not a movie.

4. To make money off Christian culture and offer Christians who would otherwise have to help people they love through rough times an easy out - it works. "Oh, you're having problems in your marriage? Here, I bought this movie for you. Just...um..watch it with your wife. I'm praying for you. (Oh, the movie didn't work? Well, they sell the book from the movie in Christian book stores....why not give that a try?)

My recommendation: Save your time/money. Read 1 Corinthians 13 together, and go out to TGIFriday's for a Chocolate Brownie Obsession, and follow God from there.

NOTE: Sorry to anyone who loved the movie, or had a transformational experience from it. I'm sure God can use anything - He's God. :) I'm sure you'd hate some of the stuff He's used in my life. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lent Preparations...

It's going to be a busy Monday/Tuesday for me, so I figured I would be pro-active in reminding you that this week begins the season of Lent for the Church. During this time (check last year's post), we recognize our humanity and need for something "other". We look forward to the work accomplished in the sacrificial death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The 40 day season begins this Wednesday with "Ash Wednesday". Traditionally, during the Lent season we "give something up", or live sacrificially in some new way. This can be only for the 40 days (like giving up TV or something), or can be used as a jumpstart to a new lifestyle (giving up smoking, etc.). We want to change our life in some way that makes us daily remember what we are doing, and allows God more space in our lives than usual.

The past couple years I've given up fiction books. I spend a lot of time reading, both fiction and non-fiction. But my wife and I have just decided to read a specific fiction book together, and I'm kinda excited about that; so I have to find something else. This morning I think I found it.

For Lent 2009, I'm going to give up being socially appropriate.

Not so much that I'm going to begin farting at the dinner table, and cussing to children. But in regards to my faith, and excitement for the Kingdom. I'm going to be more purposeful about speaking the Hope and Life that make me the person that I am. It may come as a surprise to you, but even as a youth pastor, I'm trained by life to speak about Jesus when I preach, or when I talk with Church people during church functions. But on a regular basis, it doesn't come natural to me, for whatever reason.

So for the next 40 days, I will experiment with being more open with what God has done/is doing in my life as I go through my day.

And to make the celebration of Easter exciting to my stomach (and Fat Tuesday this week), perhaps I'll find some sort of edible item I enjoy to give up also.

What are your lent plans?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My meal planning wife...

Bubble pizza. Something I never knew existed until I married my wife and we began sharing regular meal-times together. Meal times that I had hardly even thought about, although if you would have asked me I would have said, "why yes, I do plan on eating daily for the rest of my life, as much as possible."

I joke sometimes with her that I would have married her simply for the existence of Bubble Pizza in my life.

But seriously, I love that my wife has gotten into meal planning...and I recommend anyone check out the website , www.mealplanningmommies.com , she and her room mates from college have created. It says "mommies", but I say anyone who eats, who doesn't wanna think much about it - and yet wants to eat well and spend less - check the site out.

The fact that she puts time/energy/love into it, most of the recipes actually pass my taste testing (and I'm picky), and it has saved us a stink load of money over the past year - it wins my award for best blog of it's kind. :)

Without her thinking ahead, I'd probably end up with a lot of burgers and frozen pizza. Maybe after a long time, I'd get creative and make a sandwich. Not to say I can't cook - once in a while she may even inspire me off my lazy frozen pizza lovin' butt to help make a meal.

Anywho....I think I've sold enough. But seriously, check the blog. Tell your friends. And your friends' friends. And their parents. And those parents' friends. And those friends' pets.

Read it, subscribe to it, glean from it. Saves money, time, and frustration of not knowing what to make for dinner, when you know you should make something better for yourself than another grilled cheese, but aren't quite sure what/how to decide.

Eat well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How do YOU respond?

Here's a video I'd love to play for church sometime...









Does this make you think, "Oh, I need to figure out how to get more money?"

Or does it make you think, "Oh, I need to live more simply."

Our response can help the world. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rented a bad movie lately?

Lately it seems my movie choices have been lacking something. It culminated in agreeing to watch "Lakeview Terrace" with some family this past weekend. Seriously, no clue what Samuel Jackson was thinking, unless it was "I need a movie that tries to make "Snakes on a Plane" look better." Just an absolute mess in every regard. Bad lines, unbelievably predictable/cheesy, bad acting, and even when the good guy won in the end - it left you wondering why you watched the whole thing.

So Monday night, when my wife texted me RedBox's free Monday Code, I knew I had to do better this time. The new releases were all predictable, seen, or undesirable. So I turned to some older recent dvd's. My eye was caught by one I hadn't heard much about, but had a decent actor and the plot sounded interesting/human. And it was PG-13 - which we all know is the 80's "R". But I figured it was worth a shot.

It was a great movie. (watch the preview)

I don't want to say much more, and of course - it's not perfect. But I'm not sure what I would have changed (maybe left out the small amount of cussing in one scene.) For anyone who is hungry for a movie that will inspire and challenge you at the same time, as well as come as a breath of fresh air to anyone who's watched the garbage that seems to dominate box offices - rent this movie. Especially if it's a free redbox code night. :)

It captures well the struggle anyone approaching the issue of immigration should have.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

YMCA virgin..

As I went to bed last night, my wife asked me, "Aren't you going to set an alarm?" My response was simply, "If my body wants to get up at five, it will."

5:07 this morning, my body said get up. My mind, meanwhile, continued to say, "what the heck are you doing? You are NOT a gym type." I listened to my body.

I brushed my teeth, threw on a hat and some flops, and left for the YMCA we joined last week. This was the easy part. I felt healthy already, bobbin' my head to some tunes I got a week ago. As I pulled into the parking lot, it was already 1/3 full of vehicles drivin' by physically fit people. I noticed the man getting out of a bright yellow Hummer next to me, and thought, "yup, that's the kind of person I'm not." But I continued forward with the plan.

Sure, I took the tour. But I still had no idea what was going on. Scan my card, take a sweat towel (even though I didn't use it at all) and head to the locker room. So far, so good. Flashbacks to insecure junior high locker rooms. Tension builds. I enter the room.

Empty. Or at least, the wing I chose was empty. Suited up, took a quick shower, headed out to the pool. I wonder how busy a pool is at 5:20am? As I walked in, a woman (who looked like a 50 year old professional swimmer, cap/goggles and all) took the last open lane. The lifeguard (who looked like a lifeguard) came up to me the way someone would approach a lost puppy.

Shoot. I forgot I'm not wearing a shirt. There's no disguising how much I don't fit in here. But she doesn't ask me to leave due to my unfit state. She offers to let me share a lane with a man towards the other end of the pool. He agrees.

Great. My first time swimming laps towards fitness, and I'm thrown in to share lanes with someone whose bald head I see once every 3 seconds as he swims away, sportin' goggles strapped to his noggin'. I glance up at the wall, and see signs posted. "Fast" over my lane and those near it. "Slow" posted over the lanes on the other end of the pool. Oh Lord, help me.

30 minutes of backstrokes and sidestrokes, with a few breaststrokes for good measure; and I'm done. There was a brief moment where John (my lane partner) and I exchanged introductions. Nice guy, and not the buff body-builder I'd imagined. But a very efficient swimmer.

Things I learned for next time: bring my own shampoo, don't take a sweat towel, don't try to pace myself with someone like John (I'm so dead), do bring sporty goggles so that I can swim without worrying about my eyes gettin' chlorinated, do realize that even though I swim in water, and shower in water, I'm still stinkin' thirsty when it's all over.

I think I'll do this again. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Sophie Grace...

She turned one yesterday, the 15th. Oh how the year has flown....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Response to Economic Recovery?

So the appropriations committee has posted a much easier to read summary of where $311 Billion of the dollars are going:

- Summary Overview

Not sure about the other over $400 Billion. Anyone know about those? I'm sure the info is out there somewhere, I just can't find it. Guess I could read through Division A (Bill Text - Division A)- seemed most of the amounts were on there. I'll let you do that, and give me a summary overview of the rest of it.

So anyways, it seems as if it's happened. Even the No Stimulus people have conceded. So what to do now? I suppose, no matter our opinion on whether or not it should have happened, we continue to be responsible citizens, who participate in government at local and national/international levels as possible. Parts of the bill are exciting. Other aspects make it a bit obvious that everyone wanted their share of the bucks. None of it offers true Hope.

We live out the lives we hope those who lead us would live. Genuine. Honest. Sacrificial. Loving. Lives that proclaim the Kingdom that is, and is to come. The Kingdom that is governed by laws much higher than budgets and deficits.

May we be used to point those God loves to a Kingdom that offers so much more than any government could ever promise. Not by removing ourselves from society, but by becoming sacrificially involved in it...in Christ.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bill?

So most of us have heard about this ridiculously expensive bill, that some promise will give us the boost we need, while others warn us it will do more harm than good when it's all settled.

Thanks to the blog "Read the Stimulus" I realized (check back there for more updates) we can all easily have access to the bill (it's over 1,400 pages total, and not very entertaining. Thankfully there is somewhat of a "table of contents" section, so you can search a bit for things that directly relate/impact you. Although it's probably good to remember, it ALL impacts each of us.

So on first glance, anything that stands out (remember - 1,400 pages)?

Actually yes...as a youth pastor. There are many sections detailing plans for helping out agencies that help develop the youth. They've even changed the language so that "youth" goes up to age 24 (from the previous 21). Section 1221 of Part 3, Division B - talks about 2 target groups which employers can receive credit for hiring. They are unemployed veterans, and a group called "Disconnected Youth". This got me curious. What exactly IS a "disconnected youth"?

Here's what they label a disconnected youth:

1. Must be age 16-24
2. Must not be involved in any post-high school education for at least 6 months prior to hiring.
3. Must not be regularly employed for 6 months before hiring.
4. Not readily employable because of a lack of a sufficient number of basic skills.

I can see a lot of employers of post-high school students applying for this credit. The question is, what is a sufficient number of basic skills? Sure, Joe can eat and breathe, and goes to the bathroom on his own...but he's just so dern forgetful. He's lacking a sufficient number of basic skills. I should get credit for hiring that guy. At least until he's 25.

But I'm sure someone who's not readily employable will use those years to become readily employable by learning those basic skills they're lacking so they don't immediately lose their job at 25....right?

Mark 2:21 = exactly what we're doing here.

Something more/"other" is needed.

Of Special Note: You may notice on page 42 of Division A that NASA is receiving $1 Billion specifically. $400,000,000 of it is going towards "exploration". Awesome. I'll bet that will help.

Friday, February 13, 2009

who am I?

6am - it begins again, the day of a man
not just a man, cause there's more that I am
a husband, father, brother, son, and friend
youth pastor, wanna be somebody, wanna drive faster
moving forward, drawn forward, new creation type living
and those are just titles, those are just the beginning.

to see who I am, live a day right beside me
you'll see I'm not always the man the titles implying
reflecting the creator doesn't happen casually
purposeful breathing, frustrating, but spiritually
transformed from the dust, and death that comes with it
not timid, not fear and slavery, but a whole different spirit
a Spirit of Life, and that means life eternal, I'm
not waiting for heaven, some golden pie in the sky
living life wholly open, consumed by a force
dying to self, taken on a whole different course
guided by life, by Love, by His word
but to say I've achieved it, that I'm done, that's absurd.

So I offer these titles, that say who I am to the world
for God to transform,
morph, guide, break, and remake
Use each facet as a new way - of making me new today.

And He is. Making ALL things new. This includes you.
But for me? What am I wanting to be?

A husband that lifts his wife to Your throne.
A father who knows he can't do it alone.
A brother who knows what Family's about.
A son of a Father, whose love I won't doubt.
A friend who would give of himself for another.
A youth pastor who with the heart of God suffers.

the day will come to its close, around 10 or eleven
I know that some out there are waiting for Heaven
Me, I'll be waiting for that next 6am
When I can wake up, and do it all over again...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

end of the world as we know it...

..and I feel fine. Sorry, had to be said.

So anyways, here's some news that may make you think the end of the world is near:

I'm joining a gym.

More accurately, the Anderson family are becoming members of the local YMCA. We got approved of a scholarship that helps out quite a bit, and with my wife's urging (she's the healthy one), we've decided to give it a shot. This morning we officially went to get signed up.

It was interesting. Maybe a little exciting. Not so much that I'm stoked to jump on a treadmill, or figure out how many reps/sets of 5 pound weights a man as out of shape as I am should do....but rather, there's much more about the YMCA than I realized.

For one - whenever Sarah or I go to the YMCA, we can drop off both girls at their secure/safe nursery area for 2 hours. Shoot yo, it's just about worth it right there even if I just sit in the lounge area sipping horrible coffee and reading a book. But I'll probably do more.

Today, I signed up Addie and I for swim lessons for her, that we'll take during mommy's pre-natal class. I also could see myself swimming laps sometime - at least a lot more probable than me going to use weight machines. But you never know. Maybe someday I'll be able to tell you how many reps/sets I do on a weekly basis. Ha. :)

It was funny to take the tour, and go into the room where everyone is using the weight machines. There's a certain "I've just lifted weights" facial expression that just about every man in that room had. Take a second, and imagine it.....yup, that's the one. Seems you have to show that facial expression, and the better you are at showing it, the better you've just worked out. :)

If you ever see me make that face, throw a cold wet towel at me and laugh. Please. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

memories...

I was a chubby kid.

I remember in 5th grade our school had a program where you could walk circles around the outside of the school during lunch time. (I know, ah the entertaining activities of the Midwest.) They would keep track of how many times you had gone around the school, and at the end of the year there would be presentations with certificates saying how many miles you had achieved.

It was genius. Cost efficient, and physically rewarding recreational activities, that required little to no adult interaction/control. Even more genius was how I got out of it, without having to look lazy, and was still rewarded.

I became a "Chipper Flipper".

They kept track of your mileage like this: every time you circled the school building, you would receive a red bingo chip from a 4th-5th grade student who was an approved "Chipper Flipper". At the end of the lunch period, you would turn in the chips you had accumulated, and the volunteers would take the data and submit it to the gym teacher, Ms. Fox.

I was involved in the walking. I was able to be social. I was able to chillax. And I had a legitimate excuse why I was not walking circles going no where myself. After all, SOMEONE had to sacrifice themselves to make sure others received their chips.

And, at the end of the school year, the gym teacher took all the "Chipper Flippers" out for ice cream. It was a win/win situation really. Oh, except....well....I never really learned to appreciate regular purposeful cardiovascular exercise.

But the ice cream was awesome. I remember getting the crazy big one with like 10 scoops in one bowl. Insane, man. Truly insane. :) God bless Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

High on Family Love...

Sometimes there's so much love surrounding the dinner table,
all we can do is scream and laugh at ourselves...hehe

Monday, February 09, 2009

Prophecy Today

I believe he's right, but I also believe he's got some things horribly wrong. Unfortunately there are many who listen to the most attractive voice, or in this case - one of the few voices willing to speak. What will happen as people like THIS become more and more vocal, and the actual teachings of Jesus Christ, and the words from the Bible are misunderstood/skewed to say other things?

I agree with a few things: The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are incredibly important. They talk about things that have happened, things happening currently, and point towards things yet to come. They reveal Jesus Christ, and God's plan to redeem humanity and make all things new. They offer the good news that is for all people.

So what don't I agree with? Well, for one, his need to pepper random scriptures throughout his "newsletter" in order to "prove" what he's talking about. Not much apparent regard for context, or the purpose of the scriptures he's using. He views every single scripture through the lens of a "rapture/tribulation theology" that comes from a late 1800's dispensation theology, and it distorts how he views those scriptures AND today's events.

Are we in need of a Savior? Yes. Are we waiting for God to complete the work He began in Jesus Christ? Definitely. But that's where the problem arises. Dispensationalists (rapture theology, those looking for THE Antichrist, and watching for a 7 year "tribulation") believe that Daniel chapter 9 lays out a perfect time table for the last years of existence. They believe that God put his plan for Israel/the world on "pause" because Jesus Christ was crucified. (for more information on what Daniel 9 actually talks about - check out the history of the four powerful Kingdoms in Daniel - Babylonian Empire, Median Empire, Persian Empire, and Alexander the Great.)

I don't believe, and don't see anywhere in scripture that talks about Jesus Christ being the "pause" of God's work. Pretty much everything about Jesus Christ's death AND resurrection say "LOOK, MY KINGDOM IS AND IS TO COME!!!" (from God)

May we continue to proclaim the existence of the Kingdom of God, and His Love and Life NOW for all humanity...and point towards the completion of what has begun. Not out of fear and hope of being sucked out of this world before it all burns up. But out of excitement and expectation for how God will transform this world - knowing He has already begun. :)

(for more solid information on these topics, check out "Answers for Chicken Little" by Dan Boone for an appetizer, the Bible for the main course, and "In God's Time" by Craig C. Hill for dessert.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Nu Thang.

Rom 8:18-25 + 1 Cor 15:45-49 + 2 Cor 5:16-19
God promises New Creation + that includes YOU + it has begun = TELL OTHERS!!!

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

What's that? "redemption of our bodies"? Tell us more, Paul....

Thus it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

That's pretty exciting. Too bad we gotta wait so long. Right??

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Whoa. Happening already?
And the message is entrusted to us?
How are we doing?

Friday, February 06, 2009

yuck. (warning: I say "puke" a few times)

The basic time-line: Sophie pukes around midnight Sunday Night, after one of our busiest days ever. Continues to throughout some of Monday, then it goes away. We sigh, thankful to have it over.(from the top half) Tuesday at lunch I even post a video to show how awesome our girls are. Then Tuesday night, it begins.

Addie pukes. Sophie begins puking again. The night progresses like this. I post a funny comment on Facebook asking who will get sick next, me or Sarah? The comment becomes less funny around 4am. We both feel sick. Hours later, I'm almost passed out on the floor, while Sarah's trying to care for both girls and herself. (I can't puke, so my body freaks when I have to) My awesome brother-in-law takes me to the ER, so Sarah doesn't have to worry about me.

I get checked in, checked out, and released by 11:30am...all drugged up. Sarah is on her way to the hospital with Sophie - dehydrated from 3 days of losing fluids. I go home to take care of Addie as best as a drugged up daddy can. Thankfully, Sarah has maternal immunity in cases like this - a superhero power only earned by actually giving birth, so I'll let her keep it.

Wednesday blurs into thursday. Final puke from Addie at 10am. Sophie and mommy come home from the hospital. We launder the casualties, and put the girls to bed eventually. It seems to have passed. Literally.

A few things I've learned:

1. Drinking the Sobe labeled "Immunity" does not, like the video gamer in me hoped, mean I will not get sick.

2. If Phenergen is a lie, then Zofran is the truth. Both are fantastic (one to relax you, one to take away nausea specifically). But both make it hard to help your 2 year old when she's sick.

3. A 2 year old might think the bowl actually MAKES her puke, and she'll kick it across the room, and throw up in your lap instead.

4. Addie really can watch "Cinderella" a thousand times, and still enjoy it.

5. We have some pretty awesome family/friends/volunteers who took care of us, and ran Youth Group for me Wednesday evening. Thanks everyone.

6. My wife literally has some sort of maternal 6th sense and immunity going on. She knew Sophie was about to puke Sunday night, and woke to get her at the same time it began.

7. I do not want anyone in my house to get sick for a very very long time. Amen.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Now we know....

So in parenting, we've learned that there are some things you just don't know until you experience them. Here are a few of the things we've learned:

1. Addie is still not old enough to enjoy a car wash yet. We went this past Sunday night on the way home from the Superbowl. There was a brief moment where we thought she would enjoy it, but then the next round of the sprayer came on. I guess it's a good thing it wasn't one of the old school brush wash's....now THOSE are scary.

2.Both girls enjoy eating vegetables more than their father. Probably because they haven't eaten many types of food yet. I'm working on it though. My list of acceptable vegetables now include: carrots, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, anything stir-fried. Although I still wouldn't voluntarily put any of those on my plate unless reminded to do so.

3. Both of our girls love to read. Or at least, they love to hold books, and look at the first 3 pages. Then, unless you have total control of the situation, the book all of a sudden comes to "The End", and is closed.

4. Spit up is WORLDS better than vomit. Oh my word. I won't even go into this one, cause you're probably already thinking, "ew". But for real yo...vomit is like 100 times worse than spit up. Even in comparable amounts.

5. Speaking of bodily fluids - for the most part I don't mind them as much as I thought I would. Before we had kids, I'd shiver at even the mention of being involved in someone else's kids' diaper change. Now I don't love it....but it's not so bad. :)

6. Having kids is incredible. Seriously. Like you read about it....you imagine it....you watch it with others. And even after becoming a father, it's continued to deepen life in general. I'm a big fan.

7. There are plenty more, and continue to be more on a daily basis. I'm sure you'll hear more about this....doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon....hehe. Life is good...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hope for more than hope...

I woke up this morning from a crazy dream. A dream where me and some cross between "indiana jones-james bond-sean connery-and my wife's dad" were driving in an old 57 Chevy across country investigating (we were like spies or something) a giant museum that had just been opened in honor of our new President, Mr. Obama.

I think my sub-conscious agrees with my conscious. All of the congrats/celebration concerning our new President (who I'm excited about too) has crossed a line in many cases. He has done some good things in his life. Having elected him is a proud moment for the American people, given his background. But as far as what he has accomplished AS President? So far what he's given many people is hope. And while hope is a good thing, hope can be nothing.

I think of words I've read by great writers. The words about God's plan for His people found throughout the OT and NT. Jurgen Moltmann speaking about our Christian hope, as compared to the hope offered in the world. NT Wright's book "Surprised by Hope".

We have a hope that is real. Based on something already begun. Anchored in words spoken by God Himself.

It's a good thing to remember in a day like today, where you have to say is "I offer hope", and you can get a mass audience fairly quick. May we as the Church proclaim, and live lives resourced in that True hope. May creation continue to be tranformed as the reason for that hope continues to reveal Itself.

And may I keep having really cool spy-type dreams. Cause that was pretty sweet.