April 27, 2007

A Strange Town

Ryan Hartsock pointed out this article on ESPN.com.

I haven't lived in Cincinnati, but some of what the article says is also true of Dayton. We are an industrial, blue collar town that embraces both the virtuous and the vile. We have a large influence from the south.

Most infuriating is the segregation and racism that still goes on here. The river is the dividing line.

But this is a town that needs to hear the truth of the Gospel. It needs to hear that the Gospel is not just saying a prayer and "getting in." The Gospel is about loving God and loving our neighbor (no matter their color or background).

April 26, 2007

Married Sex is the Best Sex!

Catchy title, huh? And no, this post is not meant to embarrass my wife, it is what I preached on this past Sunday night at the 20-somethings service.

A few weeks ago, I was hiking with a longtime friend. We have attended the same youth group when we were teenagers. Our conversation went to relationships and marriage, and he said, "You know what they never told us when we were in church? They never told us that married sex is the best sex!"

I thought about that for awhile. He was right. The church always scream "DON'T!" and everyone else always scream, "Do whatever makes you feel good!" But no one ever said that sex is great when it is done in the proper context. So that is what I spoke on.

Speaking about sex is a tricky issue. It can be embarrassing to everyone; the speaker and the audience. It is easy to turn everything into a joke and trivialize the issue. It is also easy to resort to a "Don't" mentality when speaking in a church. We are also fighting against a culture that perpetuates the lie that "everyone is doing it" and that says, "Do whatever feels good."

I think what needs to happen, though, is that we need to talk about it in a way that is upfront and honest, and still puts forward a standard that is honoring to God. There must be a middle ground between the "Don't!" and the "Do whatever!" mentality. That middle ground is that sex is better when it is done within the appropriate boundaries.

Have doubts? Read Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:20-25. In Genesis 1:27-28, God blesses the sexual union and makes it something of which we should not be ashamed . In Genesis 2:20-25, God tells us that in the sexual union two people are bound together in more than a physical way; they become one flesh.

Biblically, sex is for marriage. There are many instances in the Bible of people who use sex in the wrong way and deal with the consequences. We see the damage that improper sexual relationships cause in today's world.

Why would God place sex within marriage?

1. It requires a commitment. Yes, relationships fail, but often because someone fails to live up to the commitment they have made. We have changed the meaning of love from being a commitment to being a feeling. So, we hear people say stupid things like "I love him, but I am not 'in love' with him." Or, "She is not meeting my needs so I have to go elsewhere."

I think we sometimes give up before things can get good. We look for the "in love" feeling and so we jump from relationship to relationship to keep that feeling. When the feeling fades, we move on. The problem is that true love requires a commitment. It means sticking it out through the rough times, and, I believe, becomes a more meaningful expression of love. We skip out to look for a feeling and miss out on something much deeper and more meaningful.

2. Sex is more than a physical act. The Bible tells us that the two people will become "one flesh." Through sex, two people become attached forever whether they like it or not.

As a teenager I worked for a restaurant. One night the waiters and waitresses were sitting around talking about their sexual conquests. One of the more promiscuous waitresses suddenly turned serious when she was asked, "What about your first time?" She said, "It was about 30 seconds on my ex-boyfriend's couch. I wish it had something more memorable." She will never forget that, she can never get that back, and she will always be connected to that person.

As a church, we need to tell people that sex is not bad. It is, however, something to be practiced within the boundaries God has set. But every time we hide it, become embarrassed by it, or get nervous about discussing it, we tell people that it is something bad. It is good to see more and more churches taking a proactive approach to the topic of sex without trivializing it or turning it into a big joke.

April 19, 2007

All is Right in the World!

This post may seem mean. I don't really have any beef with Sanjaya, but he should have been voted off well before Gina!!!

I am an American Idol fan, and it pained me to see him continue week after week after dismal performance week.

Last night, all things were set right. I felt bad for him...for a moment. I mean he is only 17, and that is a lot of pressure and abuse to handle. Imagine being 17 and everyone telling you that you don't belong.

But having said that...He didn't belong with that group of singers. Now, on to Phil and Chris.

April 18, 2007

One Bad Senior Citizen!

Here is an interesting story...a 70 year old, retired US veteran apparently killed an attacker. The 70 year old man kill his attacker with his BARE HANDS! That is one bad senior citizen. Check out the story here.

I used to make fun of the 800 year old security guard at the Walmart. I guess I will keep quiet from now on.

I Got Tagged

Tony at Church Plant My Eye just tagged me. He and I are such good friends. We are such good friends that he called me the wrong name (it is changed now)! But I am not bitter. We met online when he was bashing Ohio State before the OSU vs. Texas game. We made a friendly wager, and and I generously donated my winnings to his church. I wouldn't call it a BET since pastors aren't supposed to do that kind of thing. We will just call it...Oh, call it whatever you want.

Anyways...the tag is to where I hang out online. Here are my favorites:

Google Since creating my personalized homepage, I haven't had to go anywhere else really! I have everything fed to my page and keep track of it from there. Be sure to check out Gmail, Notebook, RSS Reader, and Analytics.

Gimp Brushes. I discovered Gimp, an open source product similar to Photoshop, awhile back. I like it. Add on a few of the Gimp brushes and you have a graphic design tool that is fun to play with.

Online Education. I discovered this resource where you can listen to a vast number of college courses for free online. Berkeley leads the way.

Morguefile. Simply awesome for most picture needs.

I also like Pandora and Musicovery.

I am going to tag: Eric Hilliard, a church planter and friend from Michigan, and Steve Bowen, the Evangelism Guru at the Dayton Vineyard.

April 17, 2007

My Posting

Things have been crazy for too long now. I have changed my job responsibilities. I am buying a house. Easter was crazy around here (we had more than 4,000 attend during our Easter services). And, I have just not been feeling well.

I realized how little I have posted over the past month. I have thought about posting, but every time I start to write I get a block. Or, I just chuck the whole idea because it doesn't seem to develop or seem all that important (of course some could argue that there is little on this blog that is important).

In the midst of this whole thing, I realize that one of the biggest problems has been the ability to rest. I need time to get away and have NOTHING to do. I need time to myself, and I need to be free from the stress of something that is left unfinished. I need time for mind to drift into other things.

Writing is one of the areas where I am hit first. I write all the time. I love to write. I journal almost everyday. I blog regularly. I am a communications coordinator so I write on my job. I edit other people's writing. I freelance. I love to write, but when I am stressed or have too much to do...it is my writing that suffers.

One day it got so bad that I felt like there was a fuzzy cloud between my brain and my eyes. Ever felt like that?

So here is what I do:

1. Take a nap. I have to watch this, though, because if you nap too much then you won't get to sleep at night. If you don't sleep at night things seem to get worse.

2. Take a day away. Get out of contact with people. Go be alone and do something you enjoy.

3. Give myself permission to procrastinate. Again, be careful as this can cause more problems than it solves.

4. Blast some rebel scum. I never knew that Playstation 2 could be so therapeutic!

What do you do to help you relax? Distract you? Help you come back to a place where you can handle your world?

April 12, 2007

Happy Birthday...


...to ME!

Now back to your lives citizens. (Unless you want to give me something via my Amazon Wishlist at the right.)

April 11, 2007

My Daughter

My friend Shawna recently gave me a great compliment...she reads my blog! I am grateful for anyone willing to read what I write. If you haven't checked out her blog you should.

She commented on how much she enjoys hearing the stories of my daughter. So....

For the Good Friday service here at the church, I was able to get a reprieve from my regular responsibilities to worship with my family. The band was rocking! They did a lot of the songs I led at the church plant in Pleasant Hill so Bri was very familiar with all of them.

Because she was so familiar she was singing at the top of her lungs. She was jumping up and down on the seat as she sang. At one point during a song she said, "My heart is beating so fast because I am singing so loud and I just love Jesus so much!"

That is enough to make a dad cry.

April 10, 2007

Jibberish

Tonight I had to get my taxes done!

While filling out the paper work, the lady asked if I had filled out some form. She rattled off the numbers, but I just looked at her because I didn't understand tax-person talk.

Earlier today I had to call an electrician about some work that needs to be done on the house we are purchasing. He asked if the house had something, but, again, I didn't know what he was talking about because I don't speak electrician.

A friend of mine, Brian, and I have this thing where I say something to describe the technology, use all the wrong "stats" to describe it, and, in all his geekness, rattles off the correct information.

I was editing a piece for our church today, and noticed a phrase that was used. The phrase might be understood by insiders at the church, but most people wouldn't understand it. They might even think it was weird.

Why are all these observations important? Because in all areas of life we need someone who knows and speaks all the complicated, discipline specific language, but we don't want to speak it.

In the realm of computers, I don't know how to write software programs. I don't know how to keep my screen from going blue (though some say a Mac would solve that!). I don't know all the ins and outs of the computer. I just want it to work. But when I talk to someone who loves computers, it is hard to get them to speak English to tell me how to solve the problem or to describe what they did to make it stop flashing.

For a good example:


When it comes to the church and theology, I think most people just want to know how it works. They look at you with a blank face when you talk about predestination, millenialism, emergent, Arminian, or whatever theological boat you are floating in. They are interested in how to know God better and how to be a better person, and they want it in English.

I love theology. I love discussing the intricacies of theological variations. But I can't let my love of theology distract me from helping people take their next step toward God. How we talk about God can help or hinder people on their spiritual journey. We need to watch our language.

I used to think I could help people become more educated theologically, and I was wrong. All I got were blank stares. One of the things that helped me correct my uses of language was to take my theological education and teach the concepts to teenagers. If I couldn't say it so they understood it, then I wasn't doing what I needed to do.

As the spiritual leader of the congregation, we have the responsibility to help people grow closer to God. We are NOT trying to sound academic or smart. If we fail to help people understand the depths of God (as much as we know) in language they understand then we have failed.

April 4, 2007

Get a Life!

Have you heard of Second Life? Second Life is a 3D online universe. Basically an online SIM community where the participants are represented by 3D "people" that can look very similar to the participant. For more information check out Wikipedia.

Business and churches are now getting in on the action. Lifechurch has created their own Second Life Campus. USA Today has even done an article on how different religions are getting in on Second Life. Read about it here.

We could debate whether or not the Internet is a viable "community" expression for Christians. We could debate whether or not it is ACTUAL community or ACTUAL communication. But the reality is that millions are using online communities. Many people are not replacing face-to-face interaction, but they are supplementing it with online communities.

We use web pages, blogs, e-newsletters, etc. What about the church using Second Life? Any thoughts?

April 3, 2007

It Is In Here Somewhere...

My friend Jeff entered the blogging world a few months ago. Jeff and I worked together in my previous life and I consider him a great friend (no matter what he says about me). He wasn't sure he was going to hang with the whole blogging thing so I waited before saying anything. (He still needs to post more often!)

But...

The time has come to send you his way. He has a great post you have to check out.

Here is a bit of what you will find:

The Bible is not an answer book... nor is it some kind of pseudo-god to be worshipped... it is a witness of the One True God to be explored... It is a living, Yahweh-ordained instrument that has the power to miraculously breathe life into our deadness. It doesn't merely provide (personal) answers to life... it does far more than that! It informs us of our hopeless state as a fallen creation. it invites us (corporately and personally) to repent of our sin... to accept the redemptive work of Yahweh, to relate to His Son, the Savior... to fully enter the Christ-life... to submit ourselves to the One who created us and desires to re-form our character, allow the Person of the Holy Spirit to fill us with His grace, and transform us into people of self-emptying, Christlike love.

I like the post. For other thoughts in a similar vein see here and here.

You Can't Please Everyone

I have worked in ministry or some form of customer service industry for more than 15 years now. One of the hardest lessons I have learned (and continue to learn) is this: You can't please everyone!

That may seem obvious, but it is often rediscovered at every corner.

A few years ago a pastor told me, "There really isn't a right or wrong way to do what you want to do. You just have to choose who you are going to offend." What he meant was that there was no biblical mandate for the course of action, but because it was an issue of style people would either like it or they wouldn't. I chose, and some people liked it and some didn't.

In any group of people there are going to be those who love what you are doing and the way you are doing it and there are going to be those who hate what you are doing and how you are doing it. This shouldn't be a reason to ignore everyone; even critics can add to the conversation.

Awhile back I was compiling comments from an evaluation form for a workshop. I noticed something very interesting. There were several people who said, "The workshop was too long!" There were several people who said, "The workshop needs to be longer!" Some said, "I loved every minute of it. It was a good overview." Others said, "You seem to be imbalanced and focus on a few details."

I wondered if they were at the same workshop!

People do this when they come into the church. You have the Baptists who think you are not talking about the Bible enough. You have the Nazarenes who think you are not holiness enough. You have the Pentecostals who think you are not charismatics enough. You have the mainliners who think you are too conservative. You have the fundamentalists who think you are too worldly. You have the unchurched who think you are too "churchy" and the long-time church attenders who think you are becoming too worldly.

While we have to be sensitive to people and their ideas, I have a thought...the pastor should spend large amounts of time listening to the voice of God. I believe that God prepares the pastor through his or her life events, likes and dislikes, character and gifting, family, everything that happens in the leader's life is preparing him for the task God has planned.

Does following God mean that you will have to pay no attention to some people and their ideas and opinions?

Does following God mean that you will have to ignore some Christian people's ideas and opinions?

Certainly!

Invest your time listening for God's voice and leading, and then do whatever it takes to go there with Him.

April 1, 2007

If Other Politicians Felt this Way...

...we would be in heaven.

"I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens."
Dwight D. Eisenhower