December 28, 2007

Making the Baby Jesus Proud

These priests are trying their hardest to bring the good name of Christianity back to one of unity!

Are We Asking the Wrong Questions of the Bible?

Sometimes we ask the wrong questions of the Bible.

It is not that our questions should NEVER be asked, only that we are often asking them when we should ask more important questions. We ask, "Did this story really happen?" We ask, "Is this story part of the original manuscript?" Or, we ask, "What were the authors original words?"

All of these questions are good, and must be asked, but if we are to really get to the heart of the message we have to move beyond these questions to one very important question. "What is God saying to me through this story?"

The answer to that question doesn't need the answer to the previous three. Some might think it does, but it doesn't. In the Bible God is telling us a story, and that story does not have to be literally true for us to get the meaning and purpose from it. I am not saying that the stories are false, only that God has placed those stories in the Bible not because they are 100% historically accurate, but because they are meant to form us into godly people. These stories help us order and arrange our understanding of the world.

Think about the last movie that moved you emotionally. It made you cry or made you angry. It made you want jump for joy or so mad you wanted to punch the guy on the screen. In that moment it didn't matter that the story was not really true (even the one "based on a true story"). What mattered was how that movie affected you and how you would be changed by that experience.

I think we look at the stories of the Bible in the wrong way if we are only looking for their authenticity. If we say to ourselves, "This story HAS to be true or the whole Bible falls apart." We are making a serious lapse in judgment. Why? Because whether the story is true or not, God put the story there for us to wrestle with and learn from. The Bible's authority does not rest on whether it is literally true, but on the God who gave it to us.

We say that the Bible is inspired; that it is inspired by God. He lead the writers to create it, and He protected it through the centuries to bring it to us in its current form. It really doesn't matter if the stories are true. The Bible is important because God says it should be the formative influence in our lives.

The question of whether some of the stories are literally true distracts us seeing the true meaning of the passage. We are saying, "If this isn't true then I won't believe it." Our attitude, however should be to simply soak in the story; to see the meaning and the power and the application of its principles. Next time you are reading the Bible, don't think "Is this story true?" Ask, "What is God trying to teach me in this story?"

What do you think? Does asking, "Is this story true?" affect the way people read the Bible? When is the appropriate time to ask if the story is true? What changes would it make to the church culture if we simply asked "What is God trying to teach me in this story?"

December 20, 2007

Winning the Confidence of Those You Lead

Jim Wideman has a great article on his blog about leadership. He offers 10 ways to win the confidence of those whom you lead.

1 Believe in yourself. No one wants to follow an insecure leader. At the same time you can put too much confidence in yourself. The key here is to be confident that Jesus has called you to be a leader.

2 Be upbeat and not discouraged or overwhelmed. Things are never as bad as you think, and you are not as wonderful as you think you are either. Be passionate and enthusiastic. If the task is too big for you, don’t let anyone know that, no one wants to rally around a defeated leader.

3 Carry yourself like a winner. Always look your best and dress for success. Know how to clean up well when you need to and don’t be silly.

4 Identify your present leadership level. How would rate yourself as a leader? How would your volunteers rate your leadership? If you are a five, sevens and eights can’t look up to you. You must grow as a leader.

Ask yourself these four simple questions and your on your way to your next level.
What level are you now?
Where do you want to be?
What do you need to do?
What steps can you take to begin?

5 Become a student of leadership and keep growing in your abilities. Always be reading. Listen to leadership teaching and mentors. Discuss what you are reading & learning with others leaders. Ask questions from people your recognize as an excellent leader.

To read the last five go here.

What do you think? Are there more you would add? Do you agree with these?

December 19, 2007

What is Cha-new-kah Anyway?

This picture has been floating around the internet...but I had to post it anyway.

December 6, 2007

Ben Stein's Expelled

Have you heard about Ben Stein's new movie Expelled? You can check out the trailer here.

In the preview, Stein talks of how freedom of speech applies to everything except the scientist and educator who wishes to discuss human creation by a divine creator. It looks like an interesting take on an old discussion.

December 5, 2007

Rob Bell's Communication pt. 2

A few days ago, I posted an article about Rob Bell's communication style. I have seen the Nooma videos and heard his messages online, but Friday was the first time hearing him live. I have to say that I was blown away. What a communicator!

He is living proof that there is no such thing as an "attention span" only boring speakers. He spoke for over an hour and a half, and nobody got up or moved.

Here are some things I noticed about his communication style:

1. Powerful use of story. Rob started with story, carried it with story, and ended it with story. When I put sermons together, I try to think of them like acts of a play. Rob's sermon flowed seamlessly from section to section. There were no clunky "transition statements." It was a story.

2. Good use of space. Rob's movement around the stage was intentional. It wasn't pacing. It was movement for movement's sake. He stood in one spot as he spoke about one character and that character's viewpoint, and then moved to another space to talk about another character and that character's viewpoint, and then back again. The movement and use of the stage were as much part of the message as the words he spoke.

He also had a large stage prop altar on the stage. It fit his message theme, and he used it throughout.

3. No judgment of alternate ideas, holds the Gospel as true. That may sound strange to say, but let me try to explain. He told the story of the development of religion. Some might argue that his description of the development was not "biblical." Some might not like the ideas he presented that were part of the other religious system. He presented those ideas, but did not feel the need to say "These ideas are wrong." He simply presented them, and then present the Gospel/Bible story as the legitimate story. Many speakers feel the need to explicitly say, "These ideas are wrong." He didn't do that.

4. Appropriate use of humor. Rob didn't tell jokes per se. He made little quips and quick witty hits that were humorous but did not distract from the message. He was funny without making his humor the point of the message. It broke the tension in the appropriate places and gave the audience a chance to breath and relax.

I have to say that I have never heard a better communicator in my life! I certainly understand why people can sit and listen to him for long periods of time. He is truly gifted. I may not agree with everything he says (or didn't explain). I would need to hear him out further. As I semi-jokingly said, "I guess you can explain everything in one hour and a half sermon!" No matter what you think of his will not find a better communicator.

If you would like to download some of Rob Bell's sermons you can go here.

December 3, 2007

Joel Osteen and Money

Bob Hyatt pointed to this article about Joel Osteen.

Recently some prominent televangelists and pastors were brought into an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley. Every time this sort of things pops up, every pastor gets a black eye and looked at with suspicion.

One might be tempted to think the same thing of Joel Osteen as he pastors a HUGE, 48,000 member, church (the largest in America I believe) in Texas. But hear what the Orlando Sentinel says:
He has not taken a salary from his Houston megachurch for two years. He owns one house -- the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years -- and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.

Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, an additional $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.

"We make plenty of money from our books," said Osteen, 44. "But we just live normal lives. We try to be conservative and honor God with our life and with our example."

Osteen refuses to condemn the targets of Grassley's inquiry, or Richard Roberts, who quit as president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., amid charges that he used school funds and facilities for his family.

"While I never like to hear negative things about friends and other ministers, I choose to believe the very best in them," Osteen said.
Here is another good quote from Joel Osteen:

Osteen agrees, offering his own definition of the prosperity gospel: "I never preach a message on money," he said. "I do believe that God wants us to be blessed, to have good marriages, to have peace in our minds, to have health, to have money to pay our bills. I think God wants us to excel. But everyone isn't going to be rich -- if we're talking about money."
The author of the article is Mark I. Pinsky author of The Gospel According to the Simpsons which is a great book.

Check it out here: The Gospel According to the Simpsons, Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition: With a New Afterword Exploring South Park, Family Guy, and Other Animated TV Shows

December 1, 2007

Back in the National Championship!!!!!

I would like to offer a special thank you to Pittsburgh for defeating the West Virginia Moutaineers and giving THE Ohio State Buckeye their third trip to the National Championship in the last 6 years. And, at least at this point, it looks like Oklahoma is adding the insurance!

We may have lost to Florida last year, but at least we recovered and didn't lose 3 games this season!