Thursday, April 30, 2009

nerd. e.

So you may have heard about a nifty little web browser called "Firefox". It's caught on, from what I've seen, and most people are using it now. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go get it NOW. It's faster than Internet Explorer, and much safer too.

Turns out, Firefox is only the tip of the better/safer world of nerdiness. Ready for a quick run through of everything, without any nerdy phrases? Because here's the thing, I've heard of people using most of these, but never figured I could do it...and you totally can. Although it does help to have some friends who know more than you, and can help tweak details here and there as you're going forward.

GIMP - a free photo/image editing software. Easy to use, and they even have ways to make it run just like photoshop.

PIDGIN - chat with your yahoo, AIM, MSN, myspace messengers all on one list!

Open Office - Free software that works just like all the Microsoft Office programs. Word, Publisher, Powerpoint, etc. You can even open and save documents to and from your rich friends with actual Microsoft Office programs!

Ubuntu - truly the top of this list (even though it's the bottom here). Always wanted a MAC for the safety and security, but couldn't afford one? Felt like you were sacrificing security for a faster processor and gadgets of a PC? Installing Ubuntu as your operating system closes many of the security gaps left open by Windows. If you're like me, you still have some programs that need Windows to run, so you install Ubuntu along beside it, and it gives you the option of entering one or the other when you restart your computer. (also, installing Ubuntu gives you Pidgin, Open Office, and GIMP along with access to many other freeware software connections) Although it's true, no operating system install will make a glowing fruit appear on the back of your laptop screen so you can show it off in public.

Yet. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Round 2 - GAME ON


What happens when the Stanley Cup Champions from 2007
meet the Stanley Cup Champions from 2008???

We'll soon find out.

Starting Friday night, the Detroit Redwings will face the Ducks of Anaheim. I'm pretty stoked, simply for the aspect of: 1. Games in Anaheim will be on around 10-10:30pm here, well after the kids bedtime. 2. Game 2 will be played on Sunday, which means it will air on NBC!!! YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS GAME!!!

A small amount of me is worried, because the Ducks have come a long way from being the Disney team of the late 90's. They've got grit, and can handle playoff action well. But Detroit had an easy first round, just tough enough to keep them in shape.

Friday, May 1 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. VERSUS, TSN2
Sunday, May 3 at Detroit, 2:00 p.m. NBC, TSN
Tuesday, May 5 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN
Thursday, May 7 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. VERSUS, TSN
*Sunday, May 10 at Detroit, 5:00 p.m. TSN
*Tuesday, May 12 at Anaheim, TBD VERSUS, TSN
*Thursday, May 14 at Detroit, TBD VERSUS, TSN



My prediction? Detroit takes the series in game 6 at Anaheim.
Hopefully we'll get some good overtime action.

it's a bit embarrassing...

I won't say much, except lately I think these two things in life attempt to accomplish very similar goals...and at least one of the two should tone it down.

Heartwarming and gets you where you need to go.
Really? I'm not happy very often according to this Church.
"We wanna give you a good deal!" (as long as you want it ALL)
Let's see how much we can confuse/scare them in 5 seconds.
ENJOY LIFE! Earn Free Gas! (wow..so simple.)
Yes...and not a minute sooner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Atonement & Punishment...

Recently my wife asked what I'd thought about the "huge debate" mentioned in this article. Honestly, I didn't know it was a huge debate until I read the article, but maybe that's because I'm a horrible debater, and avoid those areas. I did, however, want to put my two cents out there to be made fun of...just to see if I'm a heretic or something. I'd love your comments.

The issue here is substitutionary atonement. Did Jesus Christ bear the punishment of all the worlds' sins, appeasing an angry God and offering atonement to those of us who otherwise deserved the punishment of death? The writers of the article are warning readers of "The Shack" that he does not believe in this, and that he is pushing some sort of new "agenda" on Christianity to proclaim something less than True Christianity.

My answer: I dunno.

I don't know, and wouldn't claim to know all the aspects of how theologically salvation works. We have scriptures that talk about it in symbolic and antiquated phrases. We also have the straightforward words of the Bible as well. Here is what I believe:

Through Adam (& Eve), sin entered the world. Humanity's identity was wounded. Because we were God's image in the created world, all of creation became wounded. God desires to restore all of creation, and needs to restore humanity in order to do it....and wants to out of His Love for us/His creation. He became human, and lived/died/was resurrected. He suffered immensely out of a desire to restore/Love humanity/creation. Somehow in the midst of all of that, He offers us a new identity - HIS identity. A new life IN HIM.

I'm not a big fan of the images an "angry God, in need of appeasement" brings to mind. I'd rather view it as sin being a choice we were making, and the results of sin (eternally not being restored) would be "justice" more than "punishment". I'm thankful for the grace and mercy of a loving God that offers us a restoration we don't deserve, that somehow was bought with a large price of suffering.

At the same time, there are scriptures that talk about God's wrath/anger, and punishment for those who disobey. So, like I said....I dunno.

Monday, April 27, 2009

pictures are worth...

Life is good, and it's humbling to see all that I've been blessed with...I love it. :)




Sunday, April 26, 2009

wake up call...

About a month ago, I went on a hike with my 2.5 year old, Addie. It was a pretty cool father/daughter moment, as I'm a big fan of just walking through a wooded area. I remember growing up, when we'd go camping in the old motor home, or when I attended various summer camps - nature was always a large part of how I met with the God who previously had lived on a felt board. It was neat to share that with her, and I look forward to more hikes.

But as we walked through the woods, we talked (as much as a 2.5 year old can handle conversation). We'd walked through a giant field of very green grass, and through the tree line everything became a grayish tone. The trees were still bare of any leaves, and so the forest was a mess of twigs and branches, with a path for us to walk through. At one point, Addie said, "daddy...trees aren't green?" in almost a question as much as a statement.

I told her the trees were green usually, but they were sleeping during winter cause it was too cold. But now that spring was here, they were beginning to wake up. I took her really close to the buds on a branch near us, to show her the green life that was coming out. She got excited, and began to show me other branches that had buds on them. Then she looked at me and asked, "do we need to wake them all up?" Just playing with her logic, I said "yes, we definitely should". At this point she began yelling at every tree we approached at the top of her almost 3 year old voice box (which can be very loud), "TREE, IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP!!!"

I loved that walk.

We live in a post-resurrection world. A world that is in many ways sleeping. We as Christians, who believe all of life to be changed/awake from what it once was; we have been called to shout "WAKE UP!!" in word, in life, and in love to the world around us. We no longer live according to this world, but according to the Love shown to us by God's Son, in His life, death, and resurrection....

How is your wake up call going?

Friday, April 24, 2009

eh?

Recently, The Friendly Atheist posted a blog from a blog including 10 tips for Christian Evangelists. I figured it'd be worth posting to my 5 avid readers. You can get a more complete explanation of each of these here. What do you think?

1. Don’t start using the person’s name, as if you are a close personal friend, unless you actually are a close personal friend.

2. Don’t start quoting from the Bible.

3. Don’t bring up a topic, or try to find out what the person is interested in, just so you can bring it back around to how it’s all a metaphor for Jesus or Christianity.

4. Don’t use the phrase “Good News.” (kinda ironic here...telling people who's identity is "bringing good news" not to use these words)

5. Don’t talk about Jesus like he’s part of the conversation.

6. Don’t plant literature.

7. Don’t hide behind a fake front.

8. Don’t assume that we have “God-shaped holes in our hearts” and try to get us to admit it.

9. Don’t compare your past experiences to our present.

10. Don’t talk down to us, as if we’re just not understanding something perfectly obvious.


So let's say you wanted to give ten tips to atheism evangelists (definition of "evangel" notwithstanding), that go beyond bus marketing campaigns...what would you tell them?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Side B:

This past Sunday, I praught on 1 Corinthians 12:29-13:3. The fact that the "love chapter" is all about how to do/be the church together, and not simply about how to date each other or even how God Loves us. If we truly base everything we do as Church from "Love", what would change?

Here are some excerpts of stolen ideas I presented in the message:

From The Work of the People:
video

And from Mark Yaconelli: (although I probably messed up his message a bit)

It's no longer about products, about who can produce what and a worth based on that. It's about people, seeing and affirming them.

It's no longer about control, about who has it and how they use it. It's about contemplation, spending time in the temple of God's reality and letting Him reveal his authority/desire.

It's no longer about the "professional", relying on the one to get it done. It's about the processes, all the gifts of the body and what we do together.

It's no longer about results, and "success" based ministry. It's about relationships, and being driven by the good of all creation and the community as a whole.

It's no longer about conformity, about copying what has worked in other situations without regard for the new. It's about creativity, and openness to being the icon of a creative God in this cosmos.

It's no longer about answers, knowing the right ones or at least pretending we do. It's about awareness, knowing what we don't know and being genuine about it to a world who needs genuine models of humanity in need of God's mystery.

It's no longer about being faster, and the "get mine now" hurried approach to life. It's about savoring the moments, walking slower, taking our time and making space for God's refreshing our minute by minute experience of life together.

It's no longer about simply being reactive to life, anxious about fixing things. It's about being responsible, committing to being faithful above successful - whatever that looks like - crowds or the cross.

These things are not inherently bad, but they are not the foundation...they come only as they are based in the new life provided/enabled/sourced in Jesus Christ, Lord of All.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Friday

So today I get to chill at home with the girls. Princesses, ponies, and potty. Looking forward to a great time tonight with a Junior High lock-in with teens from all over our conference. We're renting out KICKS in Springfield, IL. The place is pretty cool, but to go on your own doesn't seem worth the money (many of the games and activities are pretty pricey). The only way to truly enjoy it seems to rent it out for an entire night. But in order to do that, you need 100 people. So Junior High Lock-In it is. :)

Meanwhile, the first games of the 2009 NHL Playoffs have all been played. Detroit has come through our first game with expected outcomes. Defense seems to have tightened up, and Osgood was in true playoff form. They could totally get the cup again this year.

As for upsets, there were a couple. San Jose (#1 in the West, and over the entire league this year) was shut out by Anaheim (#8 in the West) last night, 2-0. I'm slightly worried here, as Detroit could beat San Jose a lot easier than Anaheim - and Anaheim has a recent Stanley Cup win in 2007 that could fuel a hunger/ability for that team to make it through. So here's hoping San Jose comes back to win the series.....but I wouldn't count on it.

In the East, only one minor upset. The #2 Washington Capitals lost to the #7 New York Rangers. But in the East, it's a toss up with any match up anyway. They're all decent, yet mediocre teams. :)

For continued updates throughout the NHL Playoffs, I totally recommend NHL.COM this year. They've revamped their homepage for the playoffs, and include continuous updates, blog posts, stats and more. Everything you need, all on one page....so check it.

Building a wooden swing set with Uncle Larry tomorrow (after getting home from an all-night Junior High Lock-In), and then preaching Sunday morning (you should TOTALLY come - 8:30am and 10:30am at Moundford Free Methodist). So I doubt I'll post much of anything until Monday. Have a great Easter Saturday, and weekend....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Thursday

So we've tried something new this year, even in the midst of what seems to be one of our busiest weeks in quite sometime. We're stealing a suggestion from Bishop Wright, and celebrating Easter as a week long celebration. We are hoping to make this a family tradition as our daughters continue to grow, adding different aspects to it.

Each day we've attempted to include something special, and out of the ordinary. Our goal will be, as each of our 3 girls grow, give each of them one day during Easter week to plan something special. Until they get to the age where they can plan/choose something like that...guess we'll do it for them. This week was/is:

Easter Sunday: Obvious Easter celebrations, hidden baskets, dinner with family, candy, etc.
Easter Monday: Movie night with homemade pizza, with blankets and pillows all over the living room.
Easter Tuesday: Met Sarah and the kids Lunch break at the mall, letting the girls go nuts on the play area there.
Easter Wednesday: Quick stop over at McDonald's before church, letting Addie venture into the unknown. Even though she only went as far as the blue tube, and the little car. She still loved every minute of it. Then over to church for an Easter dinner/movie night with the teens!
Easter Thursday: Breakfast out with the family, McDonald's again - at Addie's request. She had the whole play area to herself! (play area didn't open until 9am, but they totally opened it at 8am for us!)
Easter Friday: Daddy gets to stay home and play with the girls all day on his day off!! Garage sale at Nana Nicol's house, if any of ya'll need baby stuffs.
Easter Saturday: Hanging out with Uncle Larry/Staci, and building a swing set in the backyard! WOOT.

May we all continue celebrating Easter with our lives, recognizing each Sunday together as a celebration/proclamation that Jesus Christ has been resurrected - that NEW LIFE is possible!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Wednesday

It was tough to do. Last week, while our church's CLC (Childrens) was celebrating Easter, having Easter Egg hunts, etc...I resisted the temptation. Teenagers, after all, are old enough to begin appreciating things like Lent, etc. So we focused instead on waiting for the resurrection. We went throught the story of Christ's last week, all the way up to his final moments on the cross, and breathing His last breath.

Incidentally, if you're looking for a great book to use for illustrating such moments of familiar or unfamiliar Bible stories, I recommend "The Book of God" by Walt Wangerin, Jr. I heard of it back in 2001 at a Youth Specialties Convention seminar with Tony Jones, and have enjoyed using it and reading it ever since. It's basically the entire Bible, written chronologically as a Novel. Great stuff.

We experienced a great Christian oxymoron,
a deeply satisfying hunger.

To talk in great detail about the need for a savior, the need for all things becoming new, the need for a Spirit that is given by God to restore all things and reveal His Kingdom as being, and not yet......and yet not celebrate it's arrival.

Who knows....maybe the teens blew it off, skipped church Sunday, and completely missed out on the festivities. Maybe they didn't experience any hunger at all. But I gotta believe some did, and all did somewhat, no matter how it was acknowledged/cast aside.

So tonight, with the teens arriving who probably missed out on Sunday celebrations, and haven't thought much about it since then....I will be re-visiting the hunger briefly. Before launching into a celebration of Easter each of them would have preferred to the hams and green bean casseroles found in dining rooms all over the place this past week.

How will we celebrate?

Pizza and Mountain Dew. With a bit of half-off Easter candy, thanks to our good friends at Walgreens. Boom. HAPPY EASTER!! NEW LIFE IS POSSIBLE!!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Tuesday

"So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence
with the glory that I had in your presence
before the world existed." John 17:5

Jesus prays this prayer before the moments leading to his arrest and execution. After laying dead for days in the tomb, we believe Jesus was resurrected.

In John chapter 11, we see Jesus calling Lazarus back from his grave. Lazarus emerges, alive, though once dead. Christianity believes that there is a difference between Jesus and Lazarus, in regard to resurrection. You've heard this before.

What is that difference? Lazarus returns simply as he was once before - humanly living. His heart was pumping blood through veins, his lungs were taking in oxygen, etc. He was alive.

Jesus is resurrected by the glory of God. Still physically, but in a new way. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as "Firstborn among the dead". We believe that someday we will all be resurrected with new bodies (1 Cor. 15), and we believe that at his resurrection, Jesus is given His fully, before all of us. The first to be born of resurrection. The first human to be completely alive by the presence and glory of God.

It is THAT KING, ruling over the Kingdom that exists by that same presence, that we pray to. That we worship. That invites us to not wait until we receive our own resurrection bodies, but to come alive by His Spirit even NOW, and to be His agents, announcing the True reality to a broken world in need of that revelation.

Relationships, words, drama, finances, tax season, wars, terrorism, corrupt government on every level, broken churches, broken homes, etc. We are called to live out God's Kingdom, and be sourced by Him, in the midst of it all, bringing life/healing/restoration/God's Spirit to each of these...believing our work as His Body is accomplishing great things for the Kingdom. (Rev. 21:5)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

Everything has changed. A new way of existing is possible.

Appropriately enough, the way hockey happens from here on out this season has changed also. :) (you knew it was coming)I'll defer you to this great article for a complete run-down for every match-up in both conferences.

For my readers, I'll simply give a quick glimpse.

There are 8 teams left in the Eastern Conference, and 8 teams left in the Western Conference.

Detroit, Chicago, and Saint Louis are ALL in the playoffs!! None of them face each other in the first round (each round is best of 7 games). But there's potential that Detroit could face Chicago in the second round.

The games begin Wednesday (but as the regular season is over, playoff beard growing begins now), and will last through late May/early June. Playoff beard season will be impacted slightly by two weddings I'm performing - so it may be trimmed to a goatee deemed acceptable by my wife. But I will shave as little as humanly possible. :)

Detroit will begin their 18th straight playoff appearance against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is Columbus' first playoff appearance ever. These two teams played several times in the regular season. Columbus even beat Detroit twice in regular time, and once in overtime. Detroit won a few times in regular time.

My guess? Detroit wins in 5 games...giving up one win in Columbus.

On a personal note: This is my first playoff season without VERSUS at home. If you have the channel, and want to hang out sometime during..

GAME 1: @Detroit, Thu. 4/16, 7 p.m. - ON VERSUS
GAME 2: @Detroit, Sat. 4/18, 6 p.m.
GAME 3: @Columbus, Tue. 4/21, 7 p.m.
GAME 4: @Columbus, Thu. 4/23, 7 p.m.
*GAME 5: @Detroit, Sat. 4/25, 7 p.m. - ON VERSUS
*GAME 6: @Columbus, Mon. 4/27, TBD
*GAME 7: @Detroit, Wed. 4/29, TBD - ON VERSUS
* if necessary; all times Eastern

...then let me know. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

EASTER SUNDAY!!!


Draw back the curtain!! SEE that all things are different!!! NEW LIFE! NEW CREATION!!

See beyond the bunnies, eggs, fancy new dresses, pretty hair, and annoying photo opportunities with well-dressed family and friends.

TODAY we celebrate WITH ALL OF CREATION, the inauguration of the Kingdom of God!!! A new way of existing. A new way of living. A new way of everything that was previously broken. The promise that God has begun, and will continue until completion - a work of redemption/restoration for the entire cosmos that includes us as it's agents/path.

So CELEBRATE! Dance, sing, do things that Free Methodists don't do on our behalf, and thank God for what He has done, and continues to do!!! Love, without expecting anything in return. Forgive, without reserve.

Be raised to NEW LIFE, and LIBERATED from the chains that have held you back. Try something new and exciting this week - that you never thought you'd be willing to do. Color outside the lines. Go to the altar before (gasp) the call comes. Stand up and thank Jesus during the sermon, because you couldn't hold it back...


"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)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday


It had been finished.


What was it?


Where did it go?


What now?




We are still waiting for something...but what?


Silence

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday


The people chose to release Barabbas over Jesus. I never understood that fully. Maybe they were just that ticked off at Jesus. He'd promised to be the "Messiah" after all, hadn't he? Where was His power over Rome? Where was their deliverance? He'd given them such hope, and here He is....being made fun of and kicked around. Screw it. Must have been another false messiah. What a jerk. Kill the guy. At least Barabbas is honest about being a bad guy.

Mob mentality takes over. Before they know it, crowds of people are shouting "CRUCIFY HIM!!!". Those who felt just a bit threatened by words they've heard about this man, are all too happy to comply. Those who had put their hope in this false messiah feel vindicated. As he heads to his death, their passion and distaste for him and all who are like him grows. They spit. They mock. How dare this man think he's anyone powerful? How dare this man give them false hopes? Who knows how he did what he did....but it's obvious he's no match for Rome. Kill him for leading us astray.

As the nails pierce his skin, something is happening. Something supernatural. Those nearby notice it, and it ripples through the crowds. This is not a good thing. It is already in motion. Some begin to wonder. As He hangs there, life slowly draining, even Roman soldiers become a bit curious. Who was this man? What feels different about this one?

All of creation mourns. Skies turn dark. Clouds cover the sun. (at least in the movies at this point, which I'm okay with. Similar to the creatures all mourning when Snow White dies, or whatever. Not comparing Jesus to Snow White...but you get it. It would make sense for all of creation to change a bit when the creator God-man dies.) It is finished.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Maundy Thursday


I remember standing in a room where they believe the "last supper" took place. I was about 16 years old, and visiting Israel with a group of adults from our church. Who knows if it was actually the room, or if somewhere an entire descended line continues to laugh for telling early Christians this playroom for children was once used for a final supper with Christ and His disciples. (the ultimate April fools joke?)

In either case, that moment among many of that trip - made Christ physical to me. Reminded me He was more than just a spiritual being, or a concept, or collection of fuzzy stories we tell to put children to sleep or get them to behave. Christ walked this earth. Jesus was. God came in the form of something created. Humble, human, prone to hungers and suffering.

He knew something huge was going to happen. That the next few days would transform all of humanity (history, present, and future), and all of creation through it. So he gathers them all into a room, washes their feet, talks with them about what God is doing, and breaks bread with them - communicating His Love for them the entire time...even to Judas.

May we experience elements of Communion/Eucharist with every bite we chew and swallow. God has/is/will be loving us.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the "new", beginning...

I don't remember exactly when I began legitimately being transformed towards/by Christ. I remember several instances of asking Jesus "into my heart". At a Wesleyan Church that offered a free Bible. At a VBS that offered special attention. At the Church with all the Flags that offered an autograph from Gospel Bill. At Youth Haven Ranch, to get one on one time with a man I looked up to. In youth group, on a trip to New Jersey serving the poor, to impress the youth workers and maybe even convince a female teen in our group I was worth a shot. On a trip to Toronto to worship with thousands of Nazarene teens because hundreds of teens were doing it.

I probably missed a few.

All that to say, I wouldn't take away any of those experiences. I believe each added to God's revealing Himself to me, and my response to those revelations.

I've been in youth ministry since I began volunteering at Youth Haven back in 1997. Over 12 years of attempting to let God use me to reveal Himself in similar ways to others. Through those years, I've seen many children and teens respond to God's tug on their heart....and/or to a talented emotion-smith.

Even today as a youth pastor, I've seen teens respond to situations. I pray they are responding to God. I continue life with them. I see situations/choices that make me wonder. I approach each time of response as if that moment is the moment they will be transformed for eternity. Something deeper than words. Something life-morphing.

And not only altar calls, and fill in the response sheet moments. But I'm attempting to view every word/interaction with those I minister to as possible "God reaching through" moments. It's not easy to remember....but I'm practicing. With my own daughters as well.

But I recognize that this life-morphing transformation is something that occurs in an instant AND continues to completion throughout a lifetime.

In the same way that this Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In being resurrected ahead of all creation, Jesus Christ inaugurates the Kingdom of God. All of creation is changed instantly in that moment, and yet continues moving towards completion.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lovey Dovey...

As I was speaking about the different parts of the body of Christ last month, something struck me. It's nothing huge. It's probably struck me before, and probably struck you long ago. But I felt it worth mentioning.

In 1 Corinthians 13, there are a whole lot of words discussing the concept of Love. It makes sense. Love is found throughout the Word of God, because of the simple fact that we believe God "is" Love (1 John 4:7-8). For these reasons, and more, you often hear 1 Corinthians called "the love chapter". It's used at weddings. It's used by Christian guys to impress/woo Christian girls worldwide. It's used by youth pastors to teach his students the kind of Love to look for (and be) in a dating relationship. It's used by Pastors to talk about how God's love is for us, etc.

But in reading 1 Corinthians chapter 12 (the chapter just before it, for the numerically challenged), we find a discussion of the parts of the Body of believers. Some had begun to envy "more important parts", or even compete for various parts of the Church. Paul instructs them this is not right theology, pointing out that every part of the body is just as important, and yet not solely important.

He then says, "I will show you a still more excellent way." Then goes into the "love chapter".

So all of these words about love, are to reveal to the people of God, how to exist as a healthy body. It's not about growth systems. Not about purpose statements. Not about saving as many lost souls as possible. Not about how many people attend your Sunday School class or various services. Not about a seamless worship service, or fluent Biblical teaching. Not about my likes or dislikes, and social preferences.

It's about Love. About responding/living from love to each other in the body. About 'doing things' in the body when we do them, with Love. It's about standing as the Body in a world that has lost sense of True Love, and proclaiming it - even at the point of great sacrifice. But not to make a point or statement...and not to simply change laws/challenge systems. But to proclaim Love, and a Kingdom built on it.

This is the Love Christ shows for all creation in His life/death/resurrection...

And all other loves we have are given to be reflections/illustrations of that Love.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Palms and Politics

Just a reminder that tomorrow you will have your opportunity to be an active citizen locally. If you live near me, here is a previous blog you may want to check concerning out local elections.

Interesting to be speaking politically during the week before Easter. We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday, recognizing the day that Christ entered to a King's welcome - hardly looking like a King. The people viewed him as the political Messiah. He was going to break the bonds of Roman rule over them, and take his rightful place as King over all the Jews. They may not have understood how/why it was this meek man with a comely appearance, but after viewing the miracles he was able to perform - most of them shrugged their shoulders and cheered that he had finally arrived!!

They were desperate for that Messiah.

We know now that Jesus was not that Messiah. Not due to any failure on his part, either. It was never his goal. It's not what he was about. He came to proclaim the powers and systems and structures of this world to be powerless. To announce the arrival and beginning of the Kingdom of God. To reveal God's love for all things created, and His desire to reach all creation through humanity. To live out a new system of living, based in the Spirit and not in the values/sources of this world.

We are desperate for that Messiah.

It's a good time for us to check ourselves (before we wreck ourselves?). Why do we lay our palms before Jesus? Why are we so darned excited about his existence/arrival? Are we ascribing some quality to how incredible Jesus is - that he would not proclaim himself?

Are we anxious for all creation to be restored/made new? For the slaves to become free? For the unloved to know they're loved? For God's Kingdom/Life to flood over all we know and live by?

Or are we anxious to escape hell/earth? To get our wings? Waiting on the rapture? Thankful that Jesus fills our "God-shaped hole", and figure that's about all we need? Glad to have something "solid" to excuse/give "purpose" to our motivations?

As we welcome this week, may we be aware of why we get excited about Jesus Christ entering creation. Looking forward to celebrating with all of the cosmos...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

in case you missed it...

My daughter is a Snow White in training...


Friday, April 03, 2009

geeked

So I am a bit excited. This has the potential to be one of the best years of hockey in a long time. You can see why I'm just a little geeked by going here. But just in case you're afraid of clicking links from a source like me....here's why:

I live in Central Illinois. I'm 3 hours away from the Chicago Blackhawks. I'm 2 hours away from the Saint Louis Blues. I'm from Michigan, and I'm so much a Detroit Redwings fan that I actually bleed red. (totally true, no lie.) Yet, as surrounded as I am by great hockey, it's rare to actually see it or hear it talked about publicly/socially. It's never as obvious as it is during the playoffs. That most exciting timeof the year, where I usually sit alone in my basement, all geared up and IBC in hand...sometimes with a friend or two who are curious why people watch the sport.

But this year could be different. This could be the year where many Illinoisans pick up the title of "hockey fan".

"But why?" you may ask. Why would this year be different from any other year?

Right now as I write this, the Blackhawks are currently number 4 in the Western Conference. They are totally going to the playoffs for the first time in 7 years. The Blues are currently tying with about 2 other teams for 7th, 8th, and 9th place right now. Four games left, and they could totally be within the top 8 teams!!

To clarify: This year, the Wings, Blackhawks, AND Blues could all be in the playoffs!!!

It's been 7 years since all 3 teams were in the playoffs. In 2002, the economy was better, and the rules for hockey had not been changed to make it a more competitive/higher scoring game. With a horrible economy, and higher scoring - and the tension between Central Division teams - the people of Illinois are ripe for an uprising of Hockey Fanatics. We need this.

So watch some hockey during the next week, and cheer on those Blues to a 7th or 8th place finish...only about 4 games left!

update: just realized it could totally happen that the Blues play the Wings in the first round of the playoffs....now THAT would be AWESOME. Anyone wanna try and go?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

and one.

So my previous post was officially my 400th blog post. It all started back in May of 2007 with my very first post. Honestly, I didn't know much about blogging. Even though I suppose I've been doing it every since November of 2004...thanks to Xanga (remember Xanga?)..which seems just a bit crazy. My adventure went from Xanga (not even sure how I got started on that...but thanks if it was you) to Myspace, to the current blog you're reading. I launched this blog after realizing Myspace was ad-happy, and Facebook might go that way someday too (which it totally is, not to mention the stupid ad-ons you get invited to every stinking day).

I have no idea how many total posts that makes. A lot probably. But most has been in the past two years. I enjoy it. After 5 years of posting my thoughts, I have built up a regular 20-30 readers a day...(most from family, and accidental visits by googlers) and yet continue to write. That in itself should tell you I'm not writing to gain high readership. I would have quit a long time ago.

I think there's something useful/beneficial to writing my thoughts out. I think more. I pay attention more. I'm accountable (relatively) to comments and random or not so random people responding to whatever I put out there.

I was never a journal person. But maybe this is journaling for me.

If you read my blog, thanks. If you check once in a while to see if I've posted anything interesting/easy to read, but usually switch pages within a few seconds - thanks. If you remember I have a blog, because you use it to find a blog I link to, thanks. If you've ever posted a comment on my blog, and actually enjoy the randomness/not-so-randomness that are the thoughts I spew out - thanks.

If you don't read it, and don't like it...well....what are you doing here? :)

Looking forward to many more words coming together...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

good book?

So last night, David Plotz was on The Colbert Report. He's recently authored a book called "Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible"

Not a big fan, just being cynical of a cynic. Probably because of my bias as a believer. But the title sounds like he's bragging an accomplishment akin to climbing a giant mountain by reading a book written specifically for all humanity to read. Something is definitely wrong when the book originally written in a language meant to be understood by even the uneducated is considered so esoteric that a man can write a book about his experience of reading it.

But I'll probably end up getting the book (once I'm finished with my online course) and reading it, and I think it's an obvious warning to comfortable Christianity.

Why a warning? Because here's a man who's familiar with religion, and not anti-God (it seems he's Jewish, at least as far as labels go). He read through the entire Book that we believe to be God revealing Himself to humanity, and where does he find himself?

"You notice that I haven't said anything about belief. I began the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn't really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I'm brokenhearted about God." (from his article in Slate Magazine)

Reading/memorizing scripture is great. Sunday School is good. Bible studies in schools are swell. Reading chunks of the Bible on a daily basis is a fine idea. But this does not promise a journey towards an experience of the Kingdom Jesus Christ came to proclaim.

Church - we need the Spirit of God to pour through our lives, and to bring New Creation Flesh to the words found in Scriptures. To be living examples of the power, and love, and grace, and mercy, and Truth found in the Old and New Testament...and communities sourced in that Life.

I'm certain there is not an equation. Nothing we can point at and say, "do this", and someone will naturally find the Life-giving Truth found in Jesus Christ. But I'm pretty sure this book is a testimony that throwing a Bible at someone, even a well translated one, won't do the trick.