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Showing posts from April, 2012

Traffic Lessons: Responding to the Roadblocks of Life

What do you do when the road is closed? Do you sit at the sign waiting for the workers to finish up and re-open the road? Do you turn around and go home, since you can't go where you had planned? Do you call friends and tell them how frustrated you are that someone closed the road? Do you pray that God would miraculously open the road? Probably, you do none of the above. You probably take the detour. While detours are often inconvenient, they are also very helpful. Even though we don't think of it this way, they often keep us from harm and prevent us from destroying our vehicles on roads that are not safe for driving. What do you do when life's road is closed? Everyone has experienced the frustration of  a good plan stalling because of an unexpected roadblock. How do you respond when life doesn't go the direction you thought it might. Some people just stop. They refuse to move on with life until they can do it the way they had planned. Some people

If You're Overly Concerned With What the Church Provides For You...

… you’re probably a spiritual infant. This model is based on the idea that the process of discipleship is a process which is intertwined with a person’s developing spiritual maturity. Observe an infant. Their primary concern is themselves. Everything they do/think/say revolves around what they want or are trying to get. Even young children spend far more time thinking about themselves than about others. Even though no one enjoys self-centered children, the reality is that almost all children are self-focused. Around adolescence that begins to change, though. With the noticing of the opposite gender, children (now pre-teens) begin to think much less about what they can do or have themselves, and become far more relational beings. Particularly, they are interested in what they can have or do together (often with the cute boy or girl in class). This is a world transforming shifts that is somewhat messy and quite awkward at first; but ultimately manifests itself in a marriage relation

Pastors and Saints. Who Equips Whom?

Ephesians 4:7-13 . The role of the pastor is to equip the saints to do the ministry of the church. Like this: Too often churches get this equation mixed up. Far too often, church-goers pay their pastor to be a Christian for them. They want nothing to do with being equipped for ministry, they simply want to equip the pastor to do the ministry for them. The result is a ridiculously hopeless spiral. Church pays pastor. Therefore Church has high expectations of pastor. Pastor cannot meet expectations without "programs" that meet every persons needs/desires. Programs cost money. Therefore Church has to pay more. Therefore Church has higher expectations of pastor... What's the alternative? Church desires to do ministry.  Pastor works with church to enable them to do ministry according to their gifts. Because the ministry is "gift-based" instead of "program-based", the resources required (gifts) already exist. Therefore The money given by the church

Breaking Free From Our Evil Step-Mother

You can read the first half of this post here . Things were different, before we lost our Father. Things were better before we came under the foot of the evil step-mother. The great villain of Cinderella is the step-mother. She is the cause of Cinderella's misery, and is also the impetus behind the harsh new life that has become Cinderella's reality. By forcing Cinderella into a life of constant menial labor, she has taken away her joy, her purpose, and perhaps on some days her will to live. I have an evil step-mother. I need to be careful here. I do not really even have a step-mother. I do have a step-mother-in-law. Her name is Jane. She isn't evil. I do have an evil step-mother. Some people might call it sin. Some would call it depravity. Some would say it's Satan. Paul wrote a lot about our evil step-mother using a different metaphor. He said that we were enslaved to sin. Cinderella was enslaved to her step-mother, we're enslaved to sin. Our inabilit

Here I Ramble About Old Days at Disney and Spiritual Lessons I Learned

Disney World has been billed as the happiest place on earth. I've been there enough to know this is absolutely not true. During my several family vacations to the Mecca of Mice, I've endured extreme heat, hurricane force wind and rain, surly park employees, cranky guests, long lines, bad food, over-priced beverages, broken rides, crowded shuttles, hotel room mix-ups, and crying children. My wife almost had to throw down with an angry woman who wouldn't stop harassing her. I nearly got locked out of a breakfast with the princesses. Our kids used to break down at the end of nearly every day. We plan to go back in a couple years. As bad as Disney World can be, it can also be that good. Watching my children at Disney World is one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. I love the way my son's eyes light up whenever we get close enough to see the "huge golf ball" that signals our arrival at Epcot. It is a riot to watch the two of them hop with anticipatio

Let It Be...

You may not have caught the subtle irony this Sunday, but on a day when I brought my Liverpool hat on stage with me, I was also preaching from a passage which spawned one of the top hits ever by a band from Liverpool, England. Perhaps you've heard of them? Below is a post I wrote many years ago which compared the Beatles' song to an old, familiar hymn illustrating the meaning of Mary's words "Let it be..." You tell me... was Paul McCartney a closet fundamentalist? ...or was he at least influenced by Horatio Spafford? When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Am I Pretty?

This weekend I mentioned the YouTube phenomenon of girls asking "Am I pretty?" Below are some clippings from an ABC News story about this. You can read the whole article here. Naomi Gibson, who lives just outside Denver, always makes a point to tell her 13-year-old daughter, Faye, that she's beautiful. So when she started getting calls from media asking to interview Faye about a video she had posted, she couldn't believe her ears. "I was floored," Gibson said. The video was called "Am I Pretty or Ugly?" and asked anyone who watched the YouTube video to comment on her attractiveness. Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, says that teens have always had a fervent desire to be accepted. "This is just an extreme version of something that's very normal," Klapow said, adding, "Another piece that's normal is impulsivity. Give them a medium that is so easily accessible and so

The Three Temptations of an American Pastor

I'm going to write a lot more about this some day, but I kind of envision it as a parable kind of story I might want to create... (like a Patrick Lencioni book) I would call it The Three Temptations of an American Pastor (I know, Lencioni wrote one very similar to this...) Here they are: Buildings Bodies Bucks I sometimes wonder how much our kingdom mindset is skewed by our devotion to these three measurements. In my experience, most people (especially pastors!) judge a church's success based on one or more of these three criteria: How big is your building How many people come on Sunday How are your offerings Of course, this doesn't exactly match Jesus model... Not only did He not have a building, He sort of didn't have a home More people left his ministry than stuck with him (a bunch of them even killed him) The biggest offering his followers ever took up was the bribe Judas received for betraying him Maybe instead of these temptatio

From the Crock Pot of My Mind: Great Commission Discipleship

Before I took the kids to school this morning, I used a recipe my wife gave me to prepare tonight's dinner. A couple pounds of burger, some ketchup, and other stuff all got thrown into the crock pot and set to low. When we get home later, we're going to enjoy some tasty sloppy joes. Crock pots are awesome. Often, the longer something simmers, the better it tastes when you eat it. (Sunday we had ribs and they were "fall off the bone" amazing!) I use my mind as a crock pot sometimes (not a crack pot). I let ideas simmer there for a long time, and then when they're ready, I pull them out. Here's an example: The crock-pot of my mind has recently been stewing on this idea of "Great Commission Discipleship" . (go ahead, add it to the growing list of discipleship concepts I write about here...or here... or here) I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I'm thinking if I were to write a book or design a class or do a sermon series on it, I would

Imagine...

Don't misunderstand. I'm a big fan of the Beatles. I'm a "paul" fan though, not a "John" fan. One night a while back, I was driving home and the radio began playing John singing, "Imagine there's no heaven..." Now, it's a catchy tune if you're into that genre (which I am), but the words are just so silly... Have you ever thought about the point of this song? Here it is: if there was no God, there could be no religions if there were no religions, there would be no war if there was no war, there could be no possessions if there were no possessions, we could all live in harmony we're closer than you think! (unfortunately the next statement is a bit rude) It didn't quite work out that way... Here's the problem with John's worldview. (and I'm certain I'm not the first to say this, but it's one of the things I'm thinking about right now) For John's world to work, everyone has to be 100% committed

Have It Your Way?

My Burger King cup says: Maybe you want a lot of ice. Maybe you want no ice. Maybe you want your top securely fastened, or maybe you want to go topless. Hmmmm? Maybe you want to mix COKE and SPRITE. Maybe you want to let your cup runneth over (we wish you wouldn't). Whatever you do, make sure to have things your way. That pretty much sums up the American ethic. It also reminds me of a conversation i had several years ago that significantly impacted the way i think about and do ministry. A family was visiting our church. They were (as many do) "looking for a new church". Since they had teenagers, they were directed to me. Their first question was: So, what kind of programs do you have? That's not an uncommon question. In fact, it's the most asked question i received in the 10+ years i did youth ministry. Sadly, the question i never received was: How will you help me disciple my child? I would have even settled for: How will you disciple my child? It woul

A Much Better Sermon Conclusion Than The One I Had...

Sometimes I wish I had "do-overs" on my sermons. Primarily because I often hear really great things from others AFTER I preach... and then it's too late to put their thoughts into the sermon. This week I got an email from a friend who was thinking about part of Sunday's sermon. He wrote: It did make me think of rewards in Heaven in a different light. You pointed out that God was keeping our inheritance for us in Heaven and compared that to what we hold on to too tightly here on earth. I am of the age that some of my co-workers are going off into retirement and where I work they are allowed to take the retirement money as a lump sum instead of a monthly allotment from the pension fund. I have seen that this raises a whole set of concerns about who they can trust to hire as a financial adviser on investing the large sum of money, and what will the funds or markets do that your adviser invests your money in? Will they go up or will they go down? And then what about