Thursday, May 29, 2008

Graduating!!!

The finish line is in sight...light at the end of the tunnel...pick your own metaphor. On Saturday I graduate with my Master of Divinity from Bethel Seminary!! I'll still have a few details to finish up this summer, but after 4 years, I'm definitely ready to be done. It should be a fun weekend with family coming into town and some surprise that my wife has cooked up for us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You Be the (Youth) Pastor

I'm reviving the "You Be the Pastor" posts to address a situation that happened at youth group last night.

During our teaching time, one 16 year old student (we'll call him Tom) raised his hand and said "I've been reading the Daoist scriptures and one thing it said was that if you want to be great, you must make yourself low. The ocean is the greatest body of water because it is the lowest." It was actually a perfect segue into our discussion on discipleship, so we talked about how that statement was relevant and how Jesus said similar things.

After youth group, Tom came up to me privately and said, "I'm thinking about becoming a Daoist. Is it a problem to be Daoist and a Christian?"

You be the (youth) pastor: What would you say?

Don't Break the Cross!!

Since our church building was just purchased by another church, we've been doing some selling, giving away, sorting, and throwing away seven years of assorted junk. My friend Jeremy was helping one afternoon when he came across a homemade wooden cross which had been in the closet for several years. I wish I would have been there to hear the conversation. The three people were trying to figure out what to do with the cross. Their Catholic upbringing kicked in. None of them wanted to throw the cross in the dumpster. It somehow seemed wrong to put the cross in the garbage with the other junk.

After arguing back and forth, Jeremy finally suggested that if they took the cross apart, it wouldn't be a cross anymore which would make it okay to throw away. So he decided to try and break the cross in half. As he broke it, the end of the cross snapped back and hit him in his man-parts, leaving him rolling in pain.

That ought to put the fear of God in you, Jeremy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Shure Thing

So our rented church building was purchased by the local Assemblies of God church. We're good friends with them, so we're going to be able to stay and hold our main service on Sunday evening instead. Our first Sunday night service was this past weekend, and I think it's going to be really good.

Part of the process of getting resettled is that New Life wants to fix the place up. They moved out the portable stage risers to build a permanent stage, and underneath one of the risers, they found this...our long lost microphone






video

The most amazing thing is...it still works!!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

All We Talk About is Sin

Sorry, back-to-back child stories. But often children help us become aware of spiritual realities that we're too set in our ways to notice on our own.

This week, Jaron had a substitute teacher. One day, he came home and said that he thought the substitute was a Christian. When my wife asked him why, he said that they were all trying to think of words that contained the "in" sound. His teacher suggested the word "sin", therefore she must be a Christian.

I find it deeply disturbing that my five year old son has already noticed that a fascination with sin is the mark of a Christian. This is clearly not the kind of abundant life that Jesus talks about. What about becoming a new creation - the old is gone, the new has come? What about no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? What about loving your neighbor as yourself? Why doesn't he recognize those things as the marks of a Christian?

Maybe it's because I'm not all that great of a new creation, so certainly I get some of the credit (blame?). But I think that the problem is bigger than that. I think that we so often forget that we don't have to be stuck in that place of guilt and shame. We can become something new, where we are defined by the good that is within us and that works through us rather than by the evil that still haunts us.

Dallas Willard coined the phrase "the gospel of sin management" as the predominant approach to discipleship in the church [The Divine Conspiracy]. In this perspective, our whole goal is to control our depravity to manageable levels, just trying to survive long enough to make it to heaven mostly in one piece. As a result, discipleship is generally about not doing certain things - sin avoidance. Willard suggests that discipleship should instead be about kingdom advancement (my words) - living out our relationship with God, focusing on the positive, living as new creatures, creating new habits that reflect the glory of our Creator.

I would love it if someday my son would say something like, "That person just did something very kind and loving. I bet that she's a Christian." Wouldn't it be great if that was our lived out message in the world?