Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's wrong with this picture

So normally I try to blog about theological reflection, truthes, Biblical texts. Today, I am totally lost for words, but had to share what I saw. I was on Facebook, which gives ads based on your age, gender, marital status. I get ads for Christian concerts, for writers stuff, for kids stuff. The ad I got today had a picture of a woman holding a little girl. She looked very happy, had a big smile. The tagline read this "Getting a divorce in Iowa? Save money and represent yourself". You have to be kidding me. What kind of a world do we live in where people are happy and smiling about getting a divorce. Ug. Just wanted to share my disgust.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Do you struggle? I struggle. I struggle with doing the right thing, with physical pain, with emotional hurt, with failure and unmet expectations. I think we all struggle and we all suffer. I have been wondering a lot lately about why we suffer and why we struggle. After all, wouldn't it just be easier of God just took away all our struggles with doing what's right? I know what the Bible tells us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Cor 10:13 (ESV)

Just because I can endure it, however, doesn’t mean I always do. Can’t I just be zapped with a holiness beam? Apparently not, and I think it’s a good thing. I need Jesus, not just for salvation as a one time process, but continually, to help me and give me strength and to forgive me and to love me. I am now and for the rest of my life completely dependant upon Jesus. He gets all the glory, all the credit and all the honor. I continue to struggle to become less and less dependant upon me, and more and more dependant upon Him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


When I was younger, my youth pastor invested in me. He mentored me and took me under his wing and gave me some great opportunities. When I got a little older, my pastor really took me under his wing, took me aside and told me about being in ministry. He invested a lot into me. When I got into junior college our Director of Missions took me under his wing. He worked with me to start a college group at our junior college. He walked beside me, taught me and gave me guidance. When I went away to the university, the pastor of the church I went too took me aside. He took me under his wing, gave me guidance and really invested in me.

Do you see a pattern emerging here? I have friends in ministry who never had this, and they long for it. They grew up in churches where the pastors didn't invest in them, a few of my friends didn't grow up in church, and never had the chance.

I don't think it happens today like it should. I think the mentoring, investing and guiding principle that Paul demonstrated is lost. I'm not going to lose it. Men have invested in me, so I am going to invest in some guys. I know of a few young men at Heatland, a couple are youth, a few are in their 20s that I am going to invest myself in. I am going to walk with them, tell them what I can that will help them. I want to invest myself in others like those men invested in me. Who can you invest in?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


There is a young lady in our church, maybe 10 years my senior at most who has cancer. Things medially look bleak for Mary Jo, so please pray for her. I barely know Mary Jo, I've met her officially once, and been in a few worship services with her. She isn't able to be at church, as you can understand. This one has me pretty broken. She has a husband and 2 children, about the same age as my older 2.

We prayed last night for Mary Jo. I have prayed all night about Mary Jo, feeling broken. I realized something, that praying for Mary Jo, I am getting some healing also. About a year ago, something happened in my life that caused a big part of me to die inside. I have been pretty emotionally dead, or at least crippled for about 11 months now. Another part died about 9 years ago when my parents died. Mary Jo needs healing, but so do I.

I made a comment to Gene last night that if I was burdened for the lost like I am burdened for Mary Jo, I would be a different person. We ask for healing for those we relate too, and I can be burdened for those who I can empathize with. Some people, I can't relate too. We don't pray as earnestly for someone who is in their 90s who is dying. We expect them to die as they age, it's the way things are "suppose" to work.

So here I sit in my office on a Wednesday morning. Thinking about my life and how much sense it does or doesn't make. Trying to be a better person, a better pastor. Struggling with life and death, with emotions and hurts and healing. Trying to make something that is not about me at all into something that’s entirely about me. I guess I thought it would all be easier than this.

That brings me to my final conclusion. It’s suppose to be like this. The Bible is full of talk about suffering, the world, about pain and sorrow. Jesus experienced it, the prophets, the great men of faith. We don’t learn without it. Sure, life might be easier if I became a monastic. If I never had contact with another person, then no one could ever hurt me. The downside is that I won’t experience the things that cause me to grow in my faith. Without pressure pushing in, I never have to exert pressure out. Without trials and doubts and temptations, without being exposed to the world and have it push me in, what need do I have of the spirit of God pushing back out?

I’m not self-sufficient. I want to be, I’ve tried to be. I can’t be. I’m not going to make some ignorant statement like “I’ll never try to be self-sufficient again” because I know I have to struggle. I have to fight against the desires of the flesh, trying to push out the spirit. I will try to rejoice in them, knowing that these trials will build in my character, and that character will build in me endurance. I will get hope from the endurance and know that one day, there will be nothing pushing in, and just spirit pouring out in worship.

As I drove to work this morning, thinking about Mary Jo, Aaron Shust’s song “My Savior, My God” came out. I sang as loud as I could. I need healing and I need hope, but I know my Savior lives, my Savior loves, my Savior’s always there for me, my God He was, my God He is, my God He’s always gonna be.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alvin Reid and a talking Possum

Some of you may look at the title of this blog and wonder what Alvin Reid and a talking possum have in common. Some of you may know who Dr Reid is, if not, you should read Radically Unchurched. I am reading Join the Movement (get this one too) and read something that I witness myself from a talking possum. The possum was a puppet in the Pro Kids event here at the church. It was a great event for the kids, and a great outreach time. He shared Christ is a great and very visual way.
In the book, Dr Reid writes about children being asked if they are artist. First graders jump out of their seats (like my kids last night). Second Graders, about half raised their hands. The older the kids, the less excited they were. How I wish I could see adults act like the kids did last night. The young kids were so excited, the older kids were sort of excited. The youth were less excited still, I am sure we adults looked bored.
What will it take to get another Jesus Movement, another Great Awakening? Will it start with me? I hope so. Will it start with you? I hope that is true also. Lets get excited again. I know it’s still down there, gotta just let it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Splitting hairs

I was thinking about a conversation I had with someone who just liked to argue. Ever met those people. Anyway, we were talking about predestination. I made the comment about God predestining based on decisions we make because God sees all of time at once. He said "that's not predestination, that's foreknowledge". Here is my thought that I had this morning.

Somedays I run to the store and I take one of my kids with me. I know my kids, I understand their personalities, and I know if Brayden hasn't napped and it's 3:30, he will fall asleep in the car. I know if that happens, it will be a mess in the store, he'd be grumpy. If Kaylee just got home from school, she is probably ready to just be home for a while, and will ask "can we go home now", so I'll take Collin.

Now I predestined which child would go based on foreknowledge. If I took them, I am reasonably certain my predictions would come to pass. God, He's never wrong. So I guess my thought is, if God predestined me since the foundation of the world, yet knew everything I would say and do, every choice and opinion I would have since the foundation of the world, how would the predestination not be by foreknowledge?

So I think the predestination/foreknowledge argument is splitting hairs. I think God knows and gives free will, yet calls us and saves us according to His own volition, but I think He does that knowing who I am. Just like I know my kids. The work of salvation is still His work, but it's not random or in a vacumme.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Need some clues for understanding

There is a passage of scripture that I love. "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. "Matt 16:13-20 (ESV)

There are all types of interpreations of this verse. I have heard pastors talk about The Gates of Hades. The ESV actaully calls them the gats of hell. I have heard messages about how gates are defensive and we storm hell and defeat the devil.

There is the problem. Number one, the devil isn't in hell. Once people are in hell, Jesus said in his parable that it's too late. But what does this gates of hell mean? Look at this picture. It's a place in Casarea Phillippi. It's a temple of a pagan idol, it's called the grotto of pan. Pan was beleived to go from his little perch (the small cut out) and he heads into the cave. There use to be a river that came from it. It was believed that pan went into the cave and it was beleived he went to hades (greek underworld) and wintered in hell. Yes, the first snowbird went to hell for the winter. Give you some perspective on Arizona. Anyway.

The cave? It's called the gate of hades. Jesus was in Ceseara Phillippi. There was a pagan temple called the gates of hades where Jesus tells Peter "The gates of hades will not prevail". Notice it's a turist attraction? Guess what. The gates of hades fell. The Roman empire became a Christian empire, the gates of hades fell. Hmmmm. Maybe, does that change your view a little? I think it should.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Opening the door for destruction

I was listening to Adrian Rogers on the radio this morning. He was talking about the book of Judges, and how everyone did what was right in their own eyes. He began to talk about moral, or lack there of, and something I had been thinking about was confirmed. Why we, as the church, must take a stand against so much of what the Government, schools and state is attempting to do. We have to push back against the loss of morality and this is why.
Let me use abortion for example. There are a large number of abortions happening because they can. Simply put, people are less concerned about getting pregnant because it can be “undone”. Marriage is the same way, people tie the knot because they can also untie it just as easy. It’s easy to do the wrong thing, because we have taken away the natural limits, consequences and concerns. Sex is no longer equated with marriage and family, because there is so much sex without it joining people or making children. In those situations when children are conceived, they are destroyed.
The same holds true for condoms in the school, we have given opportunity to kids, it appears as if we expect them to have sex young. Kids will usually meet the expectations set for them. We as the church need to start pushing to put the expectations back up there. Realities and consequences need to remain in tact.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Counterfeit revival

I have been reading about revivals, and thinking about the things happening in this day and age. I am not going to talk about anyone specifically, I am sure you can think of some people, but I think we live in the day of counterfeit "movements". Let me explain. When we have revivals come in, when we have people getting together and getting excited, what are they excited about? God? Salvation? Holiness? Often, they are excited about what is done for them. They come for blessing, they come for healing, they come to put an end to their misery and have the best life. They want to be blessed and happy.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, that is, unless that is your only concern. What about forgiven, turning away from sin, following Christ and living for Him? That is where real revival happens. Do you know what is the most comment result of revival is? A missionary movement. How many of our modern revivals are producing a missionary movement? It's because true revival gives you a passion for the heart of God. That's spiritual awakening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A young view of morality

I was listening to the radio today about how young people today are more likely to see ethics and morality as relative. I have a new theory. I think young people have always seen ethics and morality and more relative, it's as they get older and gain wisdom that they begin to see the concreteness. It takes time to see that some principles and precepts are rock-solid truth.

I think we love to re-package it, point it out, make charts and graphs. I think it’s our tendency to always think it’s getting worse. If one aspect gets better, than we look for something else to get worse. The kids in this generation are more spiritual, are looking for spiritual answers, and I believe we have a greater opportunity.

To back to the theory of young people always looking at ethical relativism. Here is my theory. They are like that because the older generation is selfish. We don’t disciple them, we don’t nurture them, we get a youth pastor, we stick them in a classroom and hope they grow up to be good people. We don’t act like Paul, and blame them for not acting like Timothy. The younger generation will never learn from the older generation if that generation is not teaching them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cryptic and metaphorical jargon

I was listening to Christian radio today, and keep hearing metaphors that I really don't think help the average believer. Have you ever heard someone say "just climb up in your heavenly Father's lap". What does that even mean (it's rhetorical, please don't give me your theological interpretation).

So often I hear these glib and trite metaphors, when no one really seems to understand what it means. I'm not gonna do it. Instead, pray that God gives you comfort, pray and thank Him for provision. Spend time with Him in prayer, in study, thinking about the word and telling others.

I think the church (the universal body of beleivers) need more of direction, not metaphors and allegory and nice pithy sayings. Love God, obey His commands, which you learn from reading the Bible and going to church. Maybe that's really climbing in Him lap, I don't know.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the stone wall people

I have been accused of not being an emotional person. Those of you who know me best are laughing at the understatement. In fact, the only time I seem to get emotional is when my back goes out and I am forced to take some pain medicine. I recall many times when the staff at Desert Sky would ask me “are you on pain meds” after paying them a complement.

In talking with our secretary yesterday, we talked about what makes someone act like I do. Perhaps it’s baggage from the past. My home life wasn’t bad, but my dad was a pretty typical father of a young man, telling me to suck it up. I usually did. In middle school, I was picked on a lot. I hid my emotions, my anger and my fear. Later in college, my parents got sick, were sick for 2 years and then died. I just did what my dad had always told me to do, I sucked it up.

So here I am, in my early 30s, about as emotionally expressive as my coffee cup. What I want to share with you this morning is the internal cry from a stoic (not the heretic kind, just an unemotional guy). I do hurt. The last few days I have missed my parents. Collin and Kaylee both celebrated birthdays recently, and I wish they could be here. I wish they could come to visit me and see my family. I am sad about loss in my life, parts of my own heart that have been broken. I don’t tell you all enough, I don’t share it enough. This is my one shot at being emotionally open. I envy many of you who can share and show emotion. I haven’t cried in close to 10 years, with the exception of 2 or 3 tears at Tate Lynch’s funeral.

So I write that to ask this. Pray for me and those you know like me. Often we are hurting inside and don’t know how or have the words to express it. I think we are all hurting at some level, so remember to pray for everyone. We all have hurts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Suffer the Little Children

InMark, chapter 10 Jesus is teaching the disciples. During the teaching time, some children are brought to Jesus. The disciples rebuke the mothers for interrupting important teaching time. These kids are interrupting our church service. They are breaking up our Small Group, this is our Sunday School hour. Get these noisy, dirty kids out of here. The scripture says that Jesus was indignant. He was indignant with His disciples, and I think He would be at us also.

The King James Version says "suffer the little children to come unto me (Jesus)". I think we have changed it into "make the children suffer to come unto me". We can't get workers in our children's classes, we can't get time or programs to teach the children, we can't seem to figure out how to help disciple or grow the children. Maybe, just maybe in the way we have done children's ministries, we should all be fit for millstones. (see Matthew 18:5-6).