Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Workin For the Weekend/Salvation

So at book club tonight one of the students raised a great question. She's stuggling with the apparent contridiction/tension between grace and works righteousness.

Now, my boy Dallas Willard would say that grace is opposed to earning, but not effort. Our conversation was sparked when I shared a paraphrase from Out of the Question, Into the Mystery by Leonard Sweet:

"Scripture tells the story of a God who was not afraid to get hands dirty in a relationship with us...the divine come-down was not complete until Jesus embodied the extent of God's deep love in his getting down and washing the disciples' feet- the dirtiest part of the human body. No first century rabbi other than Jesus ever washed his disciples' feet. It is impossible to wash feet without getting hands dirty and wet. Far too many of us are trying to keep our hands celan when the question at Judgement Day is going to be "Shoe me your hands. How dirty and wet are they?"

Man thats good!

So, she has been told in her Christian upbringing "There's nothing you can do to earn God's love" yet also, at youth group we're constantly emphasizing the way Jesus calls us to live and how we're created to "do good works". I understand her confusion, although thats not the right word.

I'd like to unpack this a little more over the next couple days. If anyone out there would like to talk about their views on the subject, that would be great!

The question is this: How are grace, faith, and works interwoven? (also to be considered: How does Christian docrtine reinforce these elements of life in Christ? What does scripture say about all this? How have the understanding of these words evolved over time?)

Good stuff I hope! More soon.

Spooky Theology

So here it is. Halloween. I'm sitting at the office...with some brownies with orange and black M&M's in them. I'm not lementing a lack of trick or treating any longer. Although I am at the awkward stage still: WAY too old to go out begging for candy...not old enough for my own kids to go (and subsequently mooch off their candy)...and still in an apartment complex with not too many trick or treaters.

Thus I will use this time formerly used for Halloween festivities to blog about some of the issues I see Halloween bringing. I posted one article about evangelicals using this night as an opportunity to witness- I just hope they aren't stingy with the candy- that'd be a bad witness.

What about these "haunted house alternatives"? I remember as a young'n going to "Heaven's Gates Hell's Flames" and as a high schooler attending "Judgement House". Haunted houses are seen by some as demonic/dangerous/satanic/lame/whatever so churches set up spiritual alternatives. They encourage groups to "bring every spirtually lost youth and adult you know". I dunno if I have a tough time with this or not.

In my experience, you went and observe different scenes played out where some kids died and you saw who went to heaven and who went to hell. Then afterwords they brought you into a room, you heard about accepting Jesus Christ, did the "with every head bowed every eye closed" routine, filled out a card, and got on your way.

At the time (10th grade), I felt the whole thing a bit presumptuous. There was this one dude who was grilling me about my salvation blah blah blah. I was like: 'man, you don't even know me!' But I could have had an isolated negative experience.

So the question to me is, are these a good idea? What sort of theology are we communicating?

First of all, before anyone accuses me of thinking I have all the answers, who cares what I think. God will use for his good whatever God will use for his good. Far be it from me to criticize good people working hard for something they believe in. Also I always talk about how the church needs to get with the program and be "relevant" and this is one way they can do that- use a holiday for "good". That being said, here's what I think.

I don't see how people get off portraying who goes to heaven and who goes to hell based on a list of 5 steps which they later give to you. I don't see how a church can boast about "hundreds of souls being saved" and then not give a thought to every one of those souls being in their congregation the next Sunday, or any congregation the next Sunday. I don't see judging who goes to heaven and hell in the human job description. I see leading others to those conclusions as manipulative and dangerous.

Literally scaring the hell out of people is not my personal method of sharing the gospel. I want kids to come to Jesus out of love, out of being sick and tired of all the crap the world is trying to sell them and always feeling like nothing is ever enough. I want kids to see all the beautiful ways God calls us to live- not just giving them "fire insurance".

Well, there it is. Happy Halloween!

Say It Ain't So!

Bob Barker is retiring!

I got to see him in his last year in action.

Wow, i'm gonna need some time to cope.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What's Scarier... Goblin Mask or Gospel Tract?

Here's some interesting articles from Yahoo! News, which I check compulsively:

This one talks about "evangelicals" handing out tracts with their candy, one man has an interesting observation:
"It's the only time of the year when people come to your door and ask to interact with you"

Here's another, introducing a new term, at least to me: "Christmas creep".

In an un-related story, after a horrific "secret santa" gift exchange I was called a Christmas creep. Anyways...

Tommarow is Halloween. I remember in 9th grade being very very upset that my Dad wouldn't let me go trick or treating. I can actually pinpoint that night as when I started to know I was growing up. No more pillow cases full of candy to barter with my sister.

So now as an adult, I still grapple with the issues Halloween raises. Plus, my Dad sent me candy. Maybe I haven't changed that much. I've got some musings about these church "alternatives" that I might post later. Until then, enjoy this:

Big Weekend for St. Louis

1. Once again, Cards=champs.

2. Went to the Red Bull Soap Box Derby on Saturday. Maybe the coolest thing I've ever been to, ever. check it out:

3. St. Louis named most dangerous city. Ironically, Detroit was #2. They can't win anything!

I keep trying to tell you guys how hardcore I am, out here in the mean streets.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cards Win!!!!

World Series! At home, in the new Busch! Lovin it! I even bought a new hat today, with a world series logo on it and everything.

So, here's what I have to say:

-screw everybody on both coasts who doesn't care unless it's the yanks/sox/angels/dodgers/A's in the series. This was the lowest rated world series ever.

-who cares if the cards had the lowest regular season win total of any world series winner in history

-we better start payin some dudes next year. our payroll is 11th in the league while our average cost of a game (merch, tickets, food, parking, etc) is 3rd. that ain't right.

-congrats to Eickstein for becoming the SHORTEST world series MVP in history! (5'7)

-my pastor went to games 4 and 5. I gotta start workin it in the offseason to score some tickets next post-season

-my roomate Jeremy, an avid Braves fan actually said the words: "The Cardinals are the best team in baseball." He had nothing else to say other than that. sweet satisfaction! we're gonna get him a personalized Cardinal jersey to celebrate. Jeremy was actually a really good sport, it was nice to have some comradery (sp?)

-finally an NL team didn't get embarrassed in the series

-the funny thing is that this lasts for a little while but then you've got to do it next year, kind of a wierd feeling. thats what sucks about sports...it's lonely at the top!

-i'm out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Faith In Action

Here's the first video in a series done by our Worship Planning Team: Faith In Action covering the Methodist Vows: Prayers, presence, gifts, service. Dr. Devotion is Prayers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


ok, after some more thought...the cards/tigers hadn't played in two days when PTI aired on Tuesday. The Giants/Cowboys game was the bigger game, mostly by default because there was a game.

I thought about just editing my other post...but I thought i'd expose everyone to my impatience and venom of my tounge.


St. Louis just can't get as much love as they deserve.

Whats the first topic on PTI today? The monday night football cowboys/giants game. BESIDES the fact that this is cross-program-promotion by ESPN, St. Louis (and Detroit for that matter) is viewed as a "small market" team. aaarrrgggg!

It it's not New York or Boston in the series, nobody cares. That makes me mad. Also, what makes me mad is you can't even watch Baseball Tonight without seeing "driven by Chevrolet" intruding at every moment of the broadcast. ugh.

On a different note, I just finished "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a' Kempis. At a whopping 75 pages, it's not saying that much to finish it quickly. However, this book is awesome. Those 15th century dudes really know wassup. So, more on that soon.

St. Louis is up 2-1 in the series. If they win, i'm turnin cars over downtown.

....kidding about the car. crime isn't funny, nor does it pay, and as we know once you have committed the crime you must do the time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fireside Chat

Here's a video we shot for a recent youth parent meeting. Poking fun at the "difficulties" of youth ministry. Let's see what ol' Pops has to say about this one!

Friday, October 20, 2006


John Mayer has a haunting song, I stole the title for this blogging entry. Check out the first lines:

"Is there anyone who ever remembers
changing their mind from the paint on a sign?"


I drive around St. Louis, more a couple years ago than now. But I see the big giant green JESUS billboard. I drive around Marshall Missouri last weekend and see lots of mini-JESUS billboards in people's yards, like campaign supporter signs.

I just can't help but think these are kind of silly. I think Mayer sang it better than I could ever say it. Are "lost" drivers (sorry for the pun, I really didn't plan it like that) going to look at that sign and think: GOD HAS FINALLY GIVEN ME A SIGN! OH JESUS, YOU ARE MY PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR!!!!!! Doubtful. Maybe i'm being cynical, maybe God can speak through a pretty obtuse sign, but I think he can do lots more with you and me. I think we're kind of fooling ourselves with our little (or big) signs. It's just one more billboard.

I'm not even gonna get started on the LAME signs that churches put up out front. Yes Dad, i'm talking to you. Yes, EUMC i'm talking to us. Ok, I guess I AM gonna get started. Let's sample some shall we?

"Don't make me come down there"

"That 'love thy neighbor thing'...I meant it"

"Our Sundays are better than Baskin Robbins"
(at least this isn't attributed directly to God)

These are just the ones off the top of my head at 2 freaking 30 in the morning. The worst part is i've actually been roped into putting the letters up for some of those signs. Who really thinks that we're attracting anyone with these things? Whats worse, i'm afraid of the type of person who would be so enamored with some cheeky slogan that they'd feel so inclined and intruiged to associate with the proprietors of the sign.

I'm probably blowing things out of proportion here, but hey, this is a blog. Hopefully i'll at least make somebody mad enough to comment. These signs are so representative of the church just not getting it. We get these stupid things from some book or website and put em' up on our marquees, bullatins, whatever. I'm not sure we REALLY think people outside of Christianity like them. Once again, I can't imagine any person i've ever met reading that sign, and then feeling a desire to get in touch with the source of such wit.

I'd compare it to an OXYCLEAN commercial. The ad is so ridiculous it's almost self-parody. I would never consider buying anything Billy Mays endorsed, he's simply to enthusiastic about too many products. However, Billy Mays does have one impressive beard, which will be soon saluted believe me. Back to the point, our signs are just one more adventure in futility.

But lets go a step further. Just like the church advertises itself in a way that reflects commerce, do we "sell" the same message? Do we confuse faith with belief? Are we trying to get people to buy into a set of rules?

How many of us out there would agree that the church puts more emphasis on right BELIEF or correct DOCTRINE as opposed to right PRACTICE or right RELATIONSHIPS?

Take communion for example. An outward sign of an inward act- remembering Christ. But take a cross section of how the church treats it: rules over who can administer it, beliefs over transubstantiation (I hope you're all impressed), what elements are used (wine vs. juice, wafers vs. bread), how the elements are administerd (the mini-cup, the bre-broken bread, the "rip n' dip"/intinction, the common cup), what is said, how it is blessed, and WHO CAN TAKE IT.

Holy crap. Thats like a communion royal rumble.

See what I mean? What could this look like to an "outsider" somebody who is "unchurched"? 'Man, those church folks sure think all sorts of things about communion. Is it really that difficult?' What do we hold more important? The relationship that communion embodies, or all the nitty gritt details steeped in tradition about how we do it...what we BELIEVE about it?

This had been churning in my mind for a little while. I recently started "Out of the Question...Into the Mystery" by Leonard Sweet and his first couple chapters are what I have blatently stolen from. Although he hasn't talked much about communion, or John Mayer, or JESUS BILLBOARDS...that was all me baby.

Alright, I hope some of this makes sense. I just think that the church has gone astray by using methods that don't really work, being out of touch with ourselves and who we're called to serve, and getting our priorities out of order.

Listen to that John Mayer song, it's a good one. It's pretty tough to write a deep song thats also really catchy while being pretty transparent. You know, not using lots of enigmatic imagry...he's just sayin what he thinks.

"Everyone believes...in how they think it outta be."
-John Mayer

The Speez

This salute to great facial hair is most appropriate, as the Cardinals 17th World Series has drawn nigh.

So tonight, I salute you Scott Spiezio. For months now, i've joked about how after you hang up your cleats, you'll pursue your REAL dream of being in a lame cover band. I admit, I have mocked your crimson goatee.

Well ya know what, right now that artificially dyed soul patch's coolness is directly proportional to how well you're playing, and how well the Cards are doing for that matter.

Lets see here, lifetime 15 for 23 in the postseason with runners in scoring position...the red beard is in!

So here's to you Scott, with your clutch hitting extending the beauty of that little red beard.

Long live "The Speez".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A New Look!

I switched to blogger's beta service, so I was able to switch up the style. I hope you likey. It feels like a crisp fall afternoon to me.

More soon, probably...

Go Cards!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Let the Games Begin

The church I am employed at is building a new facility a couple miles from our current facility. In the process we've been trying to sell our current building.

For years we've had lots of "lookers" but no "buyers" until an organ/music company wants to buy our facility to use it as an organ showroom and music school. The santuary could be used for recitals, community events, etc.

Well today in the "Chesterfield Journal" an article was published about the potential sale. There's people who aren't happy. Which is understandable. Our church is zoned for non-profit only, and midwest music is a retail store. Now, A FREAKING ORGAN COMPANY is not exactly like Wal-Mart moving in down the street from you, but I understand their concern.

But one individual insinuates that we wouldn't sell our building to a "Muslim religious group". Come on lady. Let's not lie about things you don't even know about. So the next couple weeks should be interesting as we're dealing with local politics and people who are all fired up. With some good reason, and with some dishonest tactics.

God, help us to honor you when things get real messy.

MORE Cell Phone Trouble

Ok, long story short: I HAVE A NEW CELL PHONE AND ALMOST NONE OF MY NUMBERS. If you are my friend, please email me your cell phone number: adam.mustoe@gmail.com

My cingular woes persist.

My "flip" phone doesn't open. MY FLIPPIN PHONE NEVER WORKS! I have being a slave to this little tic tac sized monster. Luckily, our church had an old cell phone nobody used, and I was able to snag it. So my number is the same, but that will probably soon change too.

The good thing to come out of this is i'm planning on filming myself destroying my old busted cell phone, a la "Office Space" and posting it on here. So, that should be fun.

More later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Encounter at TGIFridays

So there we were. My friends and I, in a TGIFriday's in Austin Texas. This particular TGIF's was located at the Radisson Hotel we stayed at. We had been watching the Cardinals clench the NLDS against the Padres, a joyous moment.

Upon celebrating the Redbirds victory, we moved the party to the shuffleboard playing area. Oh, an un-related sidenote: the fried macaroni is a delight. Anways, we're playin some shuffleboard and there's this dude at the bar watching us. Let me quality "us": Me, my friend Jessica, my youth worker buddies Steve and Phil.

He starts asking us how to play and such, so we start talking and everyone is enjoying themselves. Then he (we'll refer to him as Bernard in the interest of protecting his identidy) asks us why we're there in Austin. His first clue was Phil's nametag, which we had already repeatedly ridiculed him for wearing.

We respond by saying that we work with youth and that we were there for the national youth workers convention. He introduces himself as Bernard and then the conversation took an exciting turn.

Bernard starts asking us what we believe about the Bible and other holy books. He explains that he practices Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. I thought this was kind of funny but moved on. I bought Bernard a Miller Lite. We continue to talk, and this guy was asking some really great questions, and we were really having a good time playing shuffleboard and talking about life and theology.

Then, it hit me. I had a copy of Velvet Elvis up in my room! I could give this dude my copy and then he could see some of what Christianity is all about. I also grabbed one of the Nooma videos I had, so he could check that out. Also, I had called my special lady friend Sarah to visit for a while, but I cut the conversation short so that I could go hang out with Bernard. He had remarked it was cool to see Christians who drank a beer (I had one...*gasp*) and didn't judge him.

So I get back down to Bernard and friends, and present him with the book. I hope I don't look dorky, in retrospect maybe I came on a little strong, but I LOVE this book and Bell's movies so I thought maybe he might like them too.

Then we get around to why Bernard was at TGIFridays..."Are you from Austin Bernard?"...."No...."...."Oh, do you live around here then?"...."No...."...."So, why ARE you in Austin at a TGIFridays in the middle of a Radisson?"...."See, there's this convention in town...."



So, it was a "Smile you're on hidden camera moment" and over about 20 seconds the gravity of the situation hit me. I sort of laughed/grunted in anger, and refered to Bernard as the Christian Ashton Kutcher.

After about 10 minutes, I guess I was cool with it. Bernard was bold! He said he just saw it as an opportunity to test our faith. I definately passed! Which was kinda cool...But people aren't lab rats ya know? I guess Bernard figured we could take it.

I also demanded my stuff back.

So we ended up talking with Bernard the rest of the night and hanging out with him the last day for a workshop and worship. He was a cool guy. I decided he could have my copy of Velvet Elvis anyway. But I told him that every time he sees it he should feel guilty!

So what do ya'll think? Impersonating as a "non-believer"...good move? Or bonehead move?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hook Em' Horns?

So I just got back from Austin Texas at a youth specialties conference.

I've got lots of stories to tell. Quick recap:

Great speakers- Buster Soaries, Donald Miller
Great workshops- Dan Kimbal, other random people that most of you wouldn't have heard of, and neither had I but they were
Great Worship- David Crowder Band, Shane & Shane, Jeremy Camp
Great "entertainment"- actually quit looking at this right now and go to http://www.davethehornguy.com
Great friends- Met up with my crew from Texas, and my friend Phil from Springfield, and of course Steve from EUMC
Great people- 2500 youth workers from all over the place.

Man, it was intense. It's gonna take a couple days, maybe weeks to process things and pop them up on here.

It's tempting to create some sort of youth group worker cult where I talk about these quasi youth worker celebreties on here and nobody else has any clue who they are. So in the recaping I hope THAT doesn't happen.

I'll tell you what did happen though.

I experienced the kingdom of God in a way I don't think I had before. You can't put that on an agenda, you can't put together a workshop on MAKING THAT HAPPEN. Man, it was great. But i'm tired. More soon!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hugh Jackman/Wolverine

Today I salute everyone's favorite X-beard, Wolverine. His mutant powers are many, but the best is his hairy exterior. Plus, he could concievably (sp?) never have to spend money on any Gilette products.

In other news, i'm going to the National Youth Workers Convention tommarow in Austin, TX. (Hello Austin! I'm Brian Fellow!)
It's gonna be sweet. Workshops from "pros" Shane & Shane, David Crowder, and probably what i'm looking forward to most is Donald Miller speaking.

So i'll try to update ya'll from there. I'm gonna bring my computer and be trendy!


Monday, October 02, 2006

A Tribue to Great Facial Hair

Oh snap! Three posts in one day! Lunacy!

So thanks to Dustin I would like to set up a fairly randomly recurring segment where I pay a small omage to the great beards of this world. So many names and styles come to mind. I'm really excited about this.

Today, I salute the Missouri Annual Conferences own Bishop, Robert Schanse. Now, i've never met the guy. I've heard him talk, and its good stuff. I can say all of this freely as I have no personal benefit from sucking up to him. I'm still a layperson baby!

So here's to you Bishop, for representin' all the clergymen who's job is synonomous (sp?) with having some sort of facial fur. I salute your finely trimmed, well kept, episcopal beard.

Also, you can check out a late article from him here which is some good blogging fodder.


I hope it's not egotistical to post your own talks on your own blog. However, I do tell the students that they can go back over what we do at youth group by checking the blog. So, here is last nights. I put "sermon" in quotes because i'm not really sure if thats what I do or not, but either way this is what was said at youth group last night where we worshiped together. Man, it was great. We have such a cool youth band and are so blessed with so many gifts.

The beginning of this came at workcamp this summer when I heard BB speak on this chapter of James. So, thanks BB! Without further adu...ado? adoo...

What does it mean to be a Christian?

James 4: 17- “Anyone who knows the right he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins.”

1. It’s not about sin management.

A lot of people in our culture cringe when they hear the word Christian, or think of being one. The first thing we have to do is admit that they have several good reasons to do so. Have you been to a Christian book store lately? Or watched those TV preachers? Or seen any of the Left Behind movies? Yikes.

Lots of people feel like NOT doing this or NOT doing that makes you a Christian. This is part of it. Let’s make a big list shall we? Shout out stuff you’re not supposed to do- go on, yell in church which is something you’re not supposed to do.

(take suggestions)

Good. Now lying is not honoring God in the truth, looking at pornography is not God’s plan for men and women. Cussing is not an effective means of communicating, much less respecting another person. These things are all stuff we’re not supposed to do, you can find reasons for these in the bible. But too often what happens is people look down their noses at folks that do things from a list. Just because we don’t struggle with sin a or sin b, we find it pleasing to make other people who do feel guilty. We all do it. So what we do is focus on what we’re not doing, and that makes us somehow better than other sinners who do that. This is sin management.

Let’s look at what Jesus did in this situation:

John 8: 1-11

Christianity isn’t about “not doing bad things”

2. Christianity is about doing what is right.

Jesus clearly tells us what is right. Loving God, and loving our neighbor. He points out who our neighbor is, and gives us the tools to carry out his commandment. Problem is, it’s really hard. Very hard. This verse from James gives us a clear definition…what we KNOW inside, in our very bones to be right, to be good we MUST do. Many times in my life the problem isn’t knowing what I should do, it’s actually doing it. How I use my time, my gifts, spend my money…all of these things are important and doing good things and being responsible is really hard. So it’s easy to think of Christianity like a prison: you’re locked in this pious cell where you can only read, pray, and feel guilty about all the stuff you screwed up. But really, it’s just the opposite. Christianity is a dedication to being all about this: Phillipians 4: 8-9

3. We cannot get it all right, but we’re gonna try.

*at this point I told a couple of my struggles from the past, too long to list!*
You see Christians have a reputation for being “holier than thou” or always making people feel guilty. But the truth is Christians are no different from everyone else in that we screw up, can still be capable of great evil, and are still pretty selfish and self-serving. The difference is that we don’t rely on ourselves. We aren’t hopeless. We’re not part of a downward spiral of human nature. We’re about hope in Christ. We’re about striving to do what is right no matter how many times we fall. We’re not about keeping a list of naughty and nice. You see my friends there is such a fine line between grace and lazyness. We are at once forgiven and called to “leave our life of sin”. Through living out our faith in good works, doing “the right we ought to do” that we respond to how Jesus calls his people to live.

So I hope that you can go out into your schools, into your sports, into your families and do what is right. I hope you can at once feel free from guilt but obligated to do what is right. Because that’s how Christ calls us to live. We don’t do that good of a job. But we’re gonna keep going.


So, my good friend BB hat tiped a conversation we had the other day. Now I tip my hat back to him. I'm posting pretty much what I said at youth group two weeks ago to our high schoolers. Pick it apart if you like, I hope you do. Post a comment, or not. I'm just throwin this out there.

1. Facebook is a document-able representation of you
This can be a very dangerous thing. People can sum you up from the comforts of there own computer chair. What you put on there can be very telling. Your parents, your teachers, your youth pastors can all have access to your profiles. Honestly, think to yourself would you want your profile or ALL your comments to be seen by everyone here? So why would you say them at all? ALL your photos? There is a disconnect between what you do in real life and what you “do” on facebook. It’s easy to say whatever you want, be in whatever group you want, talk however you want, and put whatever pictures up you want because it seems real but at the same time it isn’t.

2. Facebook is a very tempting way to create a pseudo-identity.
You can literally fill in what you want people to know about you. You can hand-select information that others will use to find you, friend you, learn about you. The tempting part of this is we can create on on-line persona that is very different from our REAL persona. This is very much related to our last point.

3. Facebook is all about “doing” but not “being”.
This is some of my cultural commentary. Our culture really exalts people who KNOW stuff. Who was that guy who won all that money on Jeapordy (Ken Jennings)? What did he do but just know a bunch of junk? What does that really matter? There is a big difference in DOING but not BEING. Jesus was very concerned not just with DOING but with BEING- the condition of the heart. Pastor Michael talked about this in his sermon this morning. We’ve talked about this 2 summers ago… The list of things on your profile are things you do, it’s not who you are. But we’ve become so distorted into thinking that’s what makes us who we are. If you like jet-skiing, that’s cool. But that doesn’t make you adventurous. Being yourself makes you adventurous. Jesus again, was VERY concerned with the condition of the heart. Some of his harshest words were for religious people that talked and even acted one way, but didn’t truly live it because of their hearts. Get back in your groups and each group take one of these:

Matthew 5: 27-28,