Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas/nativity/birth of Jesus story in the scriptures

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

For those looking for the Christmas story in scripture for bedtime reading tonight or possibly around the tree tomorrow morning, I would suggest looking at Luke chapters 1 and 2 and Matthew chapters 1 and 2

Also, there are lots of good texts from the Old Testament prophesying his coming.  Some of those include Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, and I really enjoy Isaiah chapter 53

If you're looking for an online Bible to read from (with all different translations) I would check out http://www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013


This is short and simple, but of the utmost importance.

People Jesus hates:  0

People Jesus tells us we're allowed to hate:  0

Rebuttals to these points:  0

Jesus was hard on people, yelled at people, and even condemned people.  Believers.  Family.  His own disciples (Mostly).
Not unbelievers, not the ignorant - to them he showed mercy unending, grace undeserved, and love unconditional.

People Jesus hates:  0

People Jesus tells us we're allowed to hate:  0

Rebuttals to these points:  0

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are you/me/he/she/they Really Prepared to serve the Kingdom?

An introductory course on the basics of laying the ground work for apprentice leadership training.

Now, apart from the fact that that is one incredibly poorly written description (see what I did there?), it does get the point across that this is... well.. that this is where you are trained to consider the possibility of someday sticking a toe in the water.  Where the water is 2 inches in a bathtub surrounded by lifeguards and you are wearing no less than 3 flotation devices.

This is largely the direction that training has gone.  In corporations, in schools, in homes, and yes, even (perhaps to the greatest degree even) in churches.
We are going to make absolutely sure, not that someone doesn't mess up, but that they never even have the opportunity to mess up.  This is how we (try) to bring up new people.  This is our preparation.

Now, just a couple of problems with this approach (there are lots) include the fact that if you never face adversity, then you will have no idea how to handle it when you do.  If you never say anything wrong than you wont know that it's possible.  If you never need to take advice then you wont know the value of the abundance of advice all around you.  Often times people rise to the level of opposition with which they are confronted.  People learn through experience.  People learn from their mistakes.  People gain confidence and humility, knowledge, and passion from doing.

Moses clearly never read the manual on how to give an introductory course on the basics of laying the ground work for apprentice leadership training.

Neither did Paul.

Neither did any of the apostles.

Neither did Jesus.

Have we?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"What's a good scripture for _______?"

This morning I was asked by someone for "a good scripture for someone needing marital advice" and it dawned on me...

The verse that most often pops into my head, the verse that I came across a few years after my mom died suddenly just before I turned 10, the verse that so profoundly changed my life is good scriptural advice for, well... everything.

Whether it's depression, loss, vanity, anger, trouble with your spouse, trouble with your kids, trouble with your job, your boss, your church, this passage speaks.  It's about choosing your attitude, about how circumstances shouldn't define you, and about when looking through the lens of Christ, how could we (really) respond any other way?

Rejoice always
Pray continually
Give thanks in all circumstances
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, December 6, 2013

Doctrine vs. Theology

These days (oh who am I kidding... since the beginning of time) many people confuse "doctrine" with "theology".  These are not synonyms.
[semantics?  eh, they've become that, so substitute whatever catch phrases you like to get the point:]

Doctrine is a set of ideas that are taught or are believed to be true.
Similarly, the definition for Dogma is a set of beliefs that are accepted by the members without question.

Theology is the study of God (faith, experience, God's relation to His world and His people).

Doctrine is a set of traditions, taught my man, founded by man, passed on by man.

Theology is the study of and (attempted) understanding of God (not the study of tradition) through scripture.

Doctrine:  based on man
Theology: based on scripture
Doctrine: tradition
Theology: God's actual words
Doctrine: details
Theology: God

Am I saying that doctrine is bad?  No.  Am I saying tradition is bad?  No.
What I am saying is that tradition (no matter how good or beautiful) is no substitute for God's words.  Just because we/they/I/you have done something a long time, even a really, really, really long time, doesn't make it Gospel.  No matter how long mankind follows a tradition, it does not a command of Jesus make.

It's dangerous and arrogant to confuse tradition, doctrine, and dogma with theology (based on actual scripture).
Jesus was not pomp and circumstance, he was not legalistic, he was not a denomination (not my denomination, not your denomination, let's stop putting him in little tiny boxes that our feeble minds can understand and control).

Jesus was shockingly simple in the face of insurmountable detail, gracious and merciful and lowly from the (high) seat of absolute power.  He was, is, will be, I AM, relentless and reckless love without bounds.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christianity = terrified and insecure?

Remember when The Bible mini-series came out last year on the History Channel?  It was a big deal and came with tons of big names, big budget, and big marketing.  I, unfortunately, didn't get to see any of it (at the time we didn't have any TV at all or I would have certainly watched it) but have recently bought the DVD set and am looking forward to watching it and using it in multiple classes.

But here's the thing.... you know what we all heard when it came out?  About how awful it was.  "well, that's to be expected in this pagan country!" perhaps, but it wasn't from this "pagan" country, the outcry came ringing from church buildings far and wide.  When I would ask people about what was so awful I would invariably get "it's not accurate/it's all Hollywood!" and when I would prompt further for more examples, none could be thought of at the time.  When news and media outlets would confront the Christians on what was wrong with it, the scholarly would point out grievous misrepresentations like... Noah's accent.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am SURE there are inaccuracies, I'm positive there are cinematic additions, and I'm sure there is a lot left out.  But why is that so terrifying?  Learning things for yourself, looking for inaccuracies/changes/omissions offer the best learning experience and chance for discussion imaginable.

The bigger problem is this seems to be the trend.  Now, I'm not talking about distorting the Bible or having teachers teach things incorrectly, but it seems that we are so terrified that any of us might ever see/learn/hear Anything contrary to our beliefs.  Are we really that insecure that we think seeing Angels inaccurately portrayed  in the destruction of Sodom or hearing that our kid had a friend at school tell them about their Jewish/Buddhist/Muslim faith that the sky is falling?

If we truly believe what say, that we believe in the One true God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, I AM, Jesus Christ because He is the one and only, the Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, then what do we have to fear?

I would add that having our kids/teens/friends ask "hey, I heard this thing today that's different than the Bible..." is The best tool to teach and reaffirm their personal faith.  What good is their faith if it isn't their own?  If a child grows up and when asked why they are a Christian their only answer is because mom/dad/grandpa/grandma/my youth minister told me so, that is Worthless!  They have to learn, to question, to experience, to grow, and to make their faith their own - they have to Own it.

God did not give us a spirit of timidity or fear and he IS God - if watching a movie or having a discussion about Muhammad could change that then he wouldn't be God.

Have full confidence in God, who he is, what he is.

If you act like your faith is so shaky and fragile that Any opinion offered to the contrary could destroy it all then who in the world is going to have confidence in you or your God?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Warning signs in dating:

This goes not only for teens, but adults as well.  It also goes for male and female (though I wrote it for the female perspective).

Dating is hard.  Whether you're 15 and going on your first date or your 19 on your 18 on your first date in college, or your 47 dating, or your 57 dating after a divorce, dating is hard - and warning signs are so hard to spot by those In the relationship.

Here's a list, in no particular order, of some dating red flags.  Please hear me on this:  it's a red flag.  I realize there are exceptions, that's why I didn't say it was a black skull-&-crossbone flag (don't throw anything at me ;)

  1. Does he lose his temper often?
  2. Does he consider himself a failure?
  3. Is he looking for a rescuer?
  4. Has there been abuse in his home?
  5. Does he put you down or disrespect you?
  6. Does he treat you differently (good or bad) in front of other people vs. when you two are alone?
  7. Is he jealous and/or controlling?
  8. Does he need to spend All his free time with you?
  9. After beginning your relationship, has he pulled out of all other relationships and you are now his “only friend”?
  10. Does he want you to change who you are (even incrementally)?
  11. Have you (looking back) become his reflection (changed your look, your clothes, your friends, your music, your TV shows, your speech, etc)?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baby Hope (With Addison Road's 'Hope Now')

As most of you know, last September my wife and I (after 8 unsuccessful months of trying) found out we were pregnant with our second baby.

We were ecstatic.
We took pictures, planned rooms, thought about names for either gender, made doctor visits, the whole 9 yards.

Then, just a few weeks later, the doctor told us the baby was gone.  It was over.  There was nothing anyone could do.

They sent us home with pain medication and told my wife to start that regiment while stopping her progesterone (which is required by her body to sustain the baby's life during pregnancy).

We were devastated.  Broken, forlorn.  But in all of the pain, my wife just refused to give up hope... it just didn't feel right.  She never filled the pain meds and she refused to stop taking the progesterone (at the doctor's and nurse's coddling disapproval).

We prayed.  Others prayed.  Hundreds prayed, perhaps more.

We didn't Know this baby was alive, we didn't Know God would heal/sustain this child, but we prayed for a miracle anyway - hoped for the best, prepared for the worst.  As I said in the midst of it, we had "cautious optimism interrupted by bouts of terror and fear"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cynicism, Sarcasm, Pain, Hurt, teachers, gun control, and.... Jesus

My wife grew up with parents who, on nearly a daily basis, would tell her:
"You know who likes a smart aleck?  No one."

Me?  I grew up (originally) as the youngest of 4 with my older brother being 11 years my elder and my entire family holding PhDs in sarcasm.  
It wasn't, as the joke goes, a second language, it was our first.

Now, a smart aleck is defined by Merriam-Webster is an obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person full of pretense who delivers their humor in an offensive, obnoxious, or cocky way.  
By that definition, I would have to agree with my wife's parents, however, I think there are people who recognize (and deliver) sarcasm as true humor (defined by the fact that others find it funny - not just the deliverer) making light of situations and making fun of the very pretense of the sarcasm/cynicism they speak of.  Now, I realize that many would disagree with me on that and who fall wholeheartedly in the mindset of my wife's parents, and that's okay, but un/fortunately, sarcasm still falls under my standard ROE.  

--Now that all of that has been said, I can actually Start talking about what this article is really about (relieved?):--

If you enjoy the humor of being sarcastic about cynicism and making fun of the very pretense of the cynical nature, welcome to the club, we have cookies.
If you are trying to perfect the 'art' of true cynicism.... stop.  Now.

Let me explain.  No, there's too much, let me sum up:

There are teachers who every fall joke about
"oh man, here come the kids - AHH!"
haha, yeah, we can all understand that, funny stuff.

Then there are teachers who really mean it.  They go on for weeks about how life as they know it is about to end, how awful IEP meetings are (and they are), how crazy parents are, how terrible kids are, how life is just going to suck until the next break.
You know who thinks that is funny?  You guessed it, no one.  Other teachers are embarrassed, friends are taken aback, parents are horrified.

Similarly, there are parents who joke every fall about
"WOO HOO!!  School starts tomorrow - MOM PARTY!"
and again, that's funny, we get it, haha.
Then, again, there are parents who genuinely talk for weeks about how they can't wait to get rid of these stupid annoying kids and is it time to hand them over to the teachers yet so they can have their life back????

The latter, in each example, thinks they are doing the same thing as the first.  They're not.  You're not.

Here, on a bigger picture, I am pro-gun (goodbye half of my audience ;)
I believe in the Second Amendment, I believe we have a right to defend our homes, our families, our neighbors, ourselves, our places of business, my kids, your kids, etc.
Now, there's been a lot of gun bill jockeying over the last 10 months or so and often times I get annoyed at one person or another and I enjoy funny facebook memes about the ridiculousness of the issue, etc.  But also, I am at risk of (internally) going too far, worrying too much, going to crazy....
ie. moving from that first person to the second.  I don't want that.  Ever.

What in the world does any of this have to do with a Christian blog or Biblical principles?

This is not our home.  We are an exiled people with no place here to call our permanent home.  We are Israel (God's people) wandering in the desert (even if the desert looks a lot like a cushy basement rancher in suburban America).
"Our citizenship is in Heaven" and we "have no city that is our own but seek the city that is to come".
And no matter how bad things get, that's to be expected, for in this world we will all experience tragedy but we can rejoice because He has overcome the world!

Most importantly, this can all be summed up with Romans 8:18 - The sufferings of this world aren't even worth talking about (let alone letting them consume us and control our actions, our outlooks, our attitude, steal our joy, blacken our hope, and create in us true cynics) when compared to the glory that is to come!

So rejoice always - pray continually - and give Thanks in ALL circumstances.  This world is not our home.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bloom Where You're Planted

Bloom Where You're Planted:

From our discussion last night (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/37310217)

Here are the verses (and titles for each) that I shared:

Esther 4:14b                For what if TODAY was the day you were created for??

1 Corinthians 7:17      
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.

Hebrews 12:1-3         
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

THE PLAN!!!!!!
Jeremiah 29:11-13     
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Get your hands out of your pockets and BE GOD!
Psalm 74:9-12                     
We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
12 But God is my King from long ago;
    he brings salvation on the earth.

-----------“Israel’s Misery” ------------------
Micah 7:7        But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me.

John 10:3-5         The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Phillipians 4:12-13            I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:19 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:25-34            

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 9, 2013

"11 Things you might not understand about your minister"

Very powerful read that I would encourage Everyone to take just a couple of minutes and read through this man's thoughts that he's put together.

"You want us to be human, but not too human. Believe me, we know. And it’s probably for the best that we are charged with setting a good example, it makes sense. But just know, we sometimes envy your freedom to just be yourself."


Thursday, August 8, 2013

C.S. Lewis -- "Conversations with Clive"

Last night my dear friend Andrea Green and I had the opportunity to speak to a group at Highland View Church of Christ on C.S. Lewis.

Lots of great discussion on things such as:

  1. Is Lewis for everyone?
  2. What was the "Trip to the zoo?"
  3. The phases of Lewis' life (as evident in his works)
  4. The 'Lewis Trilema'
  5. Favorite work of Lewis
  6. Single most important work of Lewis
  7. Why A Grief Observed is so important
  8. Why Lewis' work (now 50 years after his death) is still so relevant, so sustainable
One of the best points that many people have asked about is the fact that we both agreed you simply can Not read 1 Lewis work.  Nor can you pick and choose a completely random order in which to read them.  Lewis' life goes through distinct phases, as we all do (as does all of our walks with God):  Atheist, curious, Logical, Faith based (honey moon phase), doubt-pain-fear-anger-grief.  You simply can not choose 1 piece of that life and get an idea of the cycle that we all (not many so honestly and raw as Lewis) go through.  A Huge part of his work is seeing his life, his walk with God, as this truly raw ebb and flow - up and down - positive and doubtful - joyful and grief stricken - faithful and angry - logical and relational.

If you had to choose an order, and focused solely on his 'major' works, the most important thing is for the works to be book-ended with Mere Christianity first and A Grief Observed last (A Grief Observed always last....).
The order, should you desire, would look something like this:

Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, (The Abolition of Man), The Great Divorce, (The Problem of Pain), (Surprised by Joy), (Miracles), and A Grief Observed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What's most important: Church growth?

I see it in bulletins and newsletters, I hear it on news programs and the radio, I read about it in manuals and curriculum, I 'learn' about it at conferences and workshops - church growth.  How to fill the seats, how to maximize your return on the alter call, how many people are in your youth group, how many in your 'small' group, how many in TSS (Total Sunday School), how many LW vs TW (last week vs this week), how many LY vs TY (last year vs this year), and ROI of $ spent vs. seats retained/conversions completed.  

It's disheartening, demoralizing, and... disgusting.

We have bought into the lie.  The lie that church is to be done the "American Way!", go big or go home, be the biggest/baddest/best/loudest/newest/hippist

Lies.  All lies.

Further more, there are other huge ramifications of such thoughts.  Therefore, if a church is growing it's because God is showing you favor, if the alter calls are big it's because the Preacher is God's chosen instrument, if the youth group is huge it's because the youth minister is "The One" - but here's the deal, if all that's true, then if a church isn't growing, or it's name isn't preceded with "Mega", or if the youth group isn't 350 people then that means that that church/minister is failing and NOT finding the favor of God, is that about right?  wow...

I don't innately dislike huge churches, nor do I believe that they are frowned upon by God, though I do have lots of concerns over huge churches because there are lots of difficulties (and good) that they are faced with that smaller churches aren't - however, I also don't believe for a second that you can necessarily judge a church's level of favor with the creator of the universe based on how many people are sitting in the seats on Sunday morning.  

If a church is "too" big (and no, I don't have a number for that - I don't think it is a number, actually) then people don't know each other as well, they don't connect, the may not feel as plugged in, they may not be needed (it may be easier to just show up, punch your ticket, and go home).  When youth groups are huge, the kids don't know each other as well (or even at all), and the youth minister is turned into a pulpit preacher and not a minister at all - they kids don't know them, can't feel connected or valued by them, etc.  Now, on the flipside, there is a lot of good a huge church can do because of vast amounts of resources, talents, money, etc.  And there are big churches who "do it right" by having 20 youth ministers and breaking the kids into small groups (the size of a normally productive youth group) and they break the church body into "Community groups" or "small groups" to achieve the affect of having a (lot of) smaller church(es).  
For example, I was on a trip of teenagers and had several youth groups present that were in excess of 100 kids.  One youth group actually had 370 people on the roster.  However, I had 2 kids in my small group on this camp who were from the same church - they were in the same youth group and had been for 3 years - and had never met.  They didn't know each other's names.  Furthermore, 1/2 a dozen kids gravitated to our group because their youth groups were so large that they had only "met" their youth minister.  They needed someone to talk to but just one person could Never be divided among such a large group, and they needed someone to come talk to, so they came to me - NOT because I was something special or I was a better youth minister, or a better person, or ANYthing like that at all, it was because I was available.  In 6 days on my work crew they had spent more time with me than they had with their own youth minister in 3 years of youth group.  
Folks, I just don't believe that's how this is supposed to be.

It's not about how many people are in the seats, or how many new people sit. Nor is growth necessarily (or necessarily not) a biproduct of God's favor on what you're doing. 

Questions? See Isaiah chapter 6. 
Verse 8 is the sexy t-shirt verse, but what matters is WHAT he was saying yes to (being called to) - see verses 9-13

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tragedy in Boston

The events of Boston shook the nation.  A day marked as "the best day in Boston", Patriots Day, schools were out, the Red Sox were playing, runners from around the world had gathered... it was a big day, a beautiful day, an Americana day.

When the first plane hit the first tower on 9/11 the nation gasped at this terrible accident.  Then the second plane hit and the realization sunk in.  Similarly, the first bomb went off and spectators, runners, and news media couldn't believe the tragedy of a man hole cover/gas explosion/accident... and then 20 seconds later that dark realization of the world we live in reared its head once more.

There will always be evil. Evil people, evil deeds, evil consequences. But whenever evil people come out from the shadows, good people, courageous people rise up to meet them. When evil atrocities are committed, amazing acts of kindness and love can immediately be found in the still smoking embers. Before the evil (full of cowardice) can even slink back into the night, love, goodness, courageous are already running to the epicenter to pick up the pieces and prepare for tomorrow.

"The world is full of evil and terrible things, but fear not, I have conquered the world"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Scandal of Grace

I heard a song recently called "The Scandal of Grace" and it reminded me of how important (and often misunderstood) grace is.

Grace is a lot of things.  It justifies us, sanctifies us, saves us.
Grace is that which is given undeserving.  It is now earned, not paid for, not even asked for (at first).  It is a pardon given by One in power to those who are powerless.  It is complete forgiveness-a level at which we can never truly understand.

Grace is that before I even knew God existed (or cared), while I was still a sinner, while I was a living fool, God walked up to the sale table, saw me in my filth and THEN looked into my future and saw that I lived to be 100 years old I would always be a screw up, never get it right, and die sinning - and He bought me anyway.

Grace is a lot of things.  It is Not fair.  Thank God.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Events Timeline (with verses)

The Easter Events Timeline
·         The plot to kill Jesus: Matthew 26:1
·         Mary Magdalene anoints Jesus with perfume- Matthew 26:6
·         Judas betrays Jesus: Matthew 26: 14
·         The Disciples prepare for Passover: Matthew 26:17
·         The Last Supper (Jesus and the Disciples): Matthew 26:17
·         Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal: Matthew 26: 23
·         Jesus predicts Peter’s denial: Matthew 26:31
·         Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36
·         Jesus’ betrayal and arrest: Matthew 26: 47
·         Jesus before Caiaphas: Matthew 26:57
·         Peter denies knowing Jesus: Matthew 26:69
·         Jesus condemned by religious leaders: Matthew 27:1
·         Judas commits suicide by hanging: Matthew 27:3
·         Pilate turns Jesus over for crucifixion: Matthew 27:11
·         Jesus stands trial before Pilate: Matthew 27:15
·         Roman soldiers taunt Jesus: Matthew 27:27
·         Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha: Matthew 27:32
·         Jesus dies on the cross: Matthew 27:45
·         Jesus is placed in the tomb: Matthew 27:57
·         Roman soldiers guard Jesus’ tomb: Matthew 27:62
·         Jesus resurrects from the dead: Matthew 28:1
·         Jesus appears to the women: Matthew 28:8

Friday, March 15, 2013

Consumerism in the family

Our consumerism mindset, the principle of cost/benefit analysis, and the idea of ROI has permeated our culture so much that it not only owns our businesses, our hobbies, our workshops, and our kitchens, but it has crept in and commandeered our relationships... our marriages.

When relationships are broken, you don't throw them away, you fix them.

When the ROI is too low, it doesn't mean get out, it means invest more heavily.

When the cost seems to outweigh the benefit, don't think about how shareholders would feel, think about the ONE that shares your soul.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


With every age we are told by those older and wiser that we don't understand time.

As a child I remember my grandpa telling me "you wont believe how fast this time will pass!"

As an elementary student you're told "once you get to middle school the pace will be so much faster"
As a middle schooler you're told "once you get to high school those 4 years will just fly by"
As a high schooler you are informed that "you think this is fast?  Just wait until you go off to college!"
And as college drifts by the professors all preach "once you hit the 'real world' you'll finally understand just how rare a commodity time really is"

When we get married we hear "now that you are married the years fly by before you even know it"
And then when we have kids those older and wiser all scream about how now they all Really mean it, the time will just FLY by and we have NO idea!

At each juncture we think they are all crazy and if only we could make this time move half as fast as they say we could get Out of this part and be so much better off!
Also, at each time, we feel that though we still feel that way about where we are currently, we admit that they were, in fact, right about the Last.

My how time really does fly.

Looking back, even I can see how those times did indeed fly by, each one faster than the last.  I agree with the wise words, now, that no one can truly understand the speed at which time moves until having a child.

It's incomprehensible to me that my baby will be starting Kindergarten THIS August...

Value your time.  Clutch it, hold, cling to it, fight for it, and never, ever take it for granted.  It is a gift.  A beautiful, wonderful, treasure of a gift, but a gift... and nothing more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Unashamed (116)

This past Sunday I had the privilege of sharing a sermon on being Unashamed.
Today I want to share a few brief notes and observations from that sermon - which can be seen here:



The main verse was Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (of Jesus Christ), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and th en to the Greek.

But to understand where Paul was coming from, you need to look back before the For to see what was in verses 14 and 15:
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish.  So I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel..."

Paul felt that he was Obligated to share this message, he had to do it, there was no option here, the message was that important, it was that Powerful.

Remember, I believe the most important point of this is to remember that Paul made these points as he was going into Rome.  Not only could he expect imprisonment, but Paul (who was a man of great prominence, stature, and notoriety, "boastful qualities since birth") was also less than a nobody.  Rome could not have cared less that he was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee.  Paul was a poor insignificant Jew who sewed tents - no different than the other few hundred of his countrymen living in the Roman ghetto.  He was poor, he was traveled, he was dusty and dirty (not to mention a lengthy criminal record...), and walking into the center of power and wealth.
As he would have walked into this seat of power with his dusty sandals, dirty feet, and traveled clothes, he claimed (this poor refuge) he had the single most important secret the world had ever known - something so powerful it could save them all (not to mention the audacity to say they needed saving in the first place!)

It was in this scenario that he yields to obligation and says he is Not ashamed of the gospel.

The 'good news' Paul was presenting, the Romans would find foolish, the story of a man dying a criminals death by the single most shameful death available in the world (on a cross) was to save them.  He was not ashamed.

The gospel message wasn't what made him unashamed, in fact, the gospel he was presenting was the very thing that had, was, and always would cause him to be shamed - but the Power of it to bring salvation to EVERYone was what made him not be Ashamed Of it.

We will be misunderstood, misquoted, chastised, accused of division and elitism, and we will be shamed, but we should not be Ashamed.
Remember, it is the Power of the message, the message that Paul says Just before making this statement is his Obligation to share with everyone!

Jesus was shamed his whole life.  See, in Hebrews 12:2 it says that Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, “For the JOY set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.

Jesus was Shamed just as Paul was Shamed, just as we all at times are Shamed, but Jesus told shame, No.  No, I will not quit, I will not stop, I will not yield, I will not let you take me because I can offer Hope and a future, I can offer Joy, I came to give Abundant life, I am SALVATION and the JOY of that message cannot be stopped. 

You may shame me, you may shame me right out of my job, my family, my friends, my hometown, my temple, even my life, but I will not be Ashamed.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life; No man comes to the Father buy by me”.  That is absolute truth.  Our story may be crazy, and our level of comfort with sharing it changes day to day year to year decade to decade, but that message is the Power of God for Salvation for ALL.

John Piper says it like this, 
“You will be shamed for the Gospel, but you do not have to be Ashamed of the Gospel."

Friday, January 18, 2013

What is the Gospel?

Me:  What is the "Gospel?"
         No, really, what is it?
         What is the Gospel?

"B":  Good News

Me:   Sure, ok, it means "good news", but so what, who cares, why is it good news?

"B":   well, it's about Jesus coming.

Me:   uh, huh...

"B":  That he was the son of God and he died

Me:  So it's 'good news' that the son of God died.  Brilliant.

"B":  well, yeah, right?

Me:  Are you asking or telling?

"B":  I'm not sure

Me:  So what is the gospel again?

"B": God's rules for living

Me:  So the good news is a rule book?  awesome.

"B":  I didn't mean it like that

Me:  ok, how did you mean it?  Why in the world would anyone think rules were
        'good new'?


Now, I'm not picking on anyone, I'm attempting to teach someone to fish instead of giving them fish.  What good is your faith if you only know it because someone told you?  it's not.

So think for a minute, how would You answer that question? What is the gospel?
and not how you'd answer it to your preacher, but if one of your peers walked up to you out of the blue and asked "what's the gospel and why do I care?"  how would you respond?  How would you explain it?

Then, perhaps even more importantly, once you've come up with your answer, really, truly look at it, examine it, meditate on it, and decide:
Is this this your answer?  Or is it your parents answer, your pastor's answer, your preacher's answer, your youth minister's answer, your family's answer... or is it yours.  Do you own it?

What is the Gospel (and why do you care)?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blue Monday/Blue Tuesday

Yesterday and today are deemed "Blue Monday" and "Blue Tuesday" and are said to be the 2 most depressing days of the year.

What's interesting (hmm... maybe) is that they actually calculate this by temperature, weather (rainy), time of year (holidays are over), debt (everyone coming off of the Christmas 'high' and coming down to the all the bills and debt they incurred for it), and number of dementors per capita (ok, I made that last one up).

So what do you think about this?

What I do know is that, as humans, our mood can at times be affected by outside forces such as gloomy weather, uncomfortable temperatures, the fact that it's a Monday, bills, etc.  But we also must remember that for many people Christmas (and other 'family' holidays) can be very depressing because of who is missing from them (as it was for me for years after my mother passed).

What I also know is that annoying saying of "you can't dictate what happens to you but you can dictate your reaction/outlook" is largely true.  This life is hard.
But we are so blessed and so gifted, even in our worst of days.  Through tragedy, death, and loss, often times the Only thing that can give us peace is The peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

We not only have joy that is independent of our surroundings and circumstances, but we are called to maintain that joy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says
"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

This verse doesn't say be joyful when it's easy, or be happy when things are going well, it assumes that that, of course, will not always be the case at all, and instead reminds us to "rejoice Always" and "give thanks in All circumstances" - and how?  Because Christ is the unchanging, the ever present, the peace that can be there when everything else falls apart, the only thing that can always pick us up after we've turned into a puddle, the only thing that makes sense out of chaos, the peace that can be there when it shouldn't be, when no one else can see it, when WE can't see it... the peace that makes no sense... the peace that passes all understanding.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Family is important.  There's no way around it.  Every culture, every creed, every religion, every time period, every history book.  Family is important.

Novels aren't written about events, not even the historical ones, they are written about relationships, love, connections, and the "main event" is nothing more than the backdrop for the story of family.

Most of my life I've tried to be calloused about some of my family, indifferent about their opinions and reactions (or complete lack thereof), and have tried to discount their affect on me.
A facade.
Sometimes elaborate, sometimes thinly veiled, sometimes believable even to me, but a facade nonetheless.

I wish I could be indifferent to those who abandoned, to those who hate, to those who are... indifferent of me and mine.  And I can, as long as they are 'out of sight and out of mind'.  During the years of silence I can almost distract myself enough to forget the abandonment, the laying judgement and responsibility of adults actions on a child, the indifference towards all others around them, the betrayal, I can even sometimes push out the crushing pain and disbelief of family being indifferent to the next generation as well, forgetting at times that my beautiful 5 year old daughter, sweet and perfectly innocent, does not even know their faces, even (in the simplicity of a baby) asking my wife "daddy's daddy is dead, right?"
I can feel resolved in my forward focus and have security in my "moved on" until...  when every other year a casual "Merry Christmas" text crosses my phone and those few dead pixels send me into a spiral of pain, doubt, fear, anger, resentment, disbelief; reverting me back to that 10 year old boy who's fault this all is.

I am a firm believer in being in charge of your life, taking ownership of your feelings, and deciding how you will respond (you dictate your life-your life does not dictate you) and was taught these by great examples who made me who I am today (my older brother, my uncle, and my grandfather, and my 2 grandmothers to name a few)... but occasionally, despite all my best efforts, my resolve and practiced indifference melts into a scared, scarred, huddled up little boy who, despite his truly blessed life, amazing family, and innumerable friends and loved ones, just misses his mom who passed and longs for his dad he never had.