Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Here is an article from about how to represent yourself, literally to treat yourself like a brand of toilet paper or light bulb. This is ridiculous.


Here's a devotion I gave at our Church Council meeting. Just to let you know I don't just blab online and then never do anything beyond a computer!

Church Council Devotion, 1.22.2007


When I was in 6th grade, my voice started to crack and although it was not as impressive or respect commanding as it is now, I had facial hair. I was going through what biologists and middle school teachers call “puberty”. This puberty is well documented: hormonal balances changing, brain patterns altering, fuzzy feelings occurring, new odors emerging, all sorts of fun stuff. Some of us were early bloomers, some were late bloomers, which in retrospect didn’t really leave room for just bloomers. That’s another topic altogether.

I survived puberty and went to college. Then after college you’re thrust into “the real world” as biologists and middle school teachers call it. What I’ve found is that most young adults in America suddenly enter a second puberty no body ever told them would happen to them. All through school you’re told to go to college and everything will work out fine: you’ll end up 32 years old, married with a beautiful spouse, with 2 kids, a dog, and a great career. The problem is no body has an outline for how this is going to pan out. There’s no “7 effective habits” to figure out what you’re supposed to do to get through this spiritual and professional puberty. When you’re 13, it’s weird to have hair under your arms all of a sudden but it’s a lot easier to deal with being 23 and trying to answer the looming question what am I going to do with my life?

I was able to identify the call of God upon my life, so please don’t read too much into the paragraph above. You may be wondering…what is this dude talking about, and why have I already heard about his hairy nature so much? Well, I’ll tell you.

Our church is going through puberty. I don’t care what Willow Creek or Saddle Back or Windsor Crossing, or North Point Community, or The Rock (where I went to church during college), or Church of the Resurrection is doing, it’s not the same as here. We have different people in a different context with a unique playground in which God wants us to play. Let’s read books and go to trainings and figure out what has worked elsewhere, by all means! But what WE have to do is figure out how God is calling us to live, to be always discerning how God is leading us to function as a living body of Christ. Churches that are “successful” are not all following some mysterious paradigm we haven’t purchased the rights to, it’s not some model we’re just missing out on, they’re being faithful to how God is calling them to work, in their particular context.

What’s hard about puberty, about growing up, is that it always seems foreign and the other side of it seems unimaginable. Then, years later through a process of experience and learning you see that the changes you went through were good, hopefully. Those folks at Salem-New Ballwin sure were adventurous to plant a church further west. You can go down and see the names on a plaque of the people who built the new sanctuary, I’m sure glad they did. I’ll bet both those groups of people had tough calls to make. But we all have benefited greatly from their efforts in God’s name.

Throughout the New Testament Jesus speaks to us about trees, plants, seeds, fruit-- things that grow. With the possible exception of Chia Pets things that grow take nurture, care, and a lot of thought and even more time. Consider the following scriptures:

Matthew 7: 18, 20…”A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 13: 1-9…The parable of the sower.
13: 23…”The One who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what sown.

Matthew 13: 32...The parable of the mustard seed. “Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows It is the largest of garden plants…”

John 15: 1-5…The vine and the branches. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.”

There’s plenty more, but I’m not trying to impress you with my ability to search or go through the gospels or concordances. I’m trying to show you that in God’s Kingdom the seeds are planted, watered, grown, and even pruned. So this church council can prune our part of the vine which is embodied in our church. It ain’t always pretty. How many of you have splintered limbs out by the street corner?

Growing is a continual process. Pruning takes planning and care. When a seed is planted, it’s hard to imagine that it will one day be a massive living creature. When your kids went through puberty, I’ll bet it was hard to imagine them being a full fledged contributing member of society. At this point, with our congregation, it might be hard for us to conceive of all the great things God wants to do in us and through is if we remain faithful.

But just like puberty, it’s awkward, not very much fun, and sometimes you start to smell and you don’t know why. There’s no step by step manual for precisely how EUMC transforms into Living Word just like there wasn’t a pamphlet for how to be 13.

Puberty is the name we’ve given the biological changes in adolescence, and I hope this body can lead us through our church’s puberty, through our church’s flowering--with a proper respect and honor for what has been, a commitment to what is, and a healthy enthusiasm for what could be.

Stuff It

Here is a good article I saw on today.

How much of everything we do is motivated by the accumulation of stuff? Or as Francic A. Shaeffer would put it: "Personal peace and affluence". Education, Career, the way we raise our much is taken over by the fact we want ourselves and our children to be "successful" which of course means, rich. Take a look, some of the stats are pretty shocking.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Quick Update and Story

Hello all my blog people, it's been too long! Things are nuts-o around here, in a good way. I've seen a couple movies and finished a couple books which I hope to "review"/share my thoughts on here. More on Sam Harris' stuff eventually as well.

So I was at the bank last week, depositing a check as our internet was down due to the power outages, so no direct deposit from the ol' Church. All this is to say that I normally don't go into the Bank, so I was a bit sheepish.

It wasn't to busy and I stepped right up to the teller, although I was greeted by the and he asked "Hey, how's the youth group goin?" which I thought was cool. Anyways the teller and I get to talking and I presumed she noticed the check, or somehow we got to talking about the fact that I work at a church and she asked if I was Catholic. I replied no, and that I worked at the Methodist church down the street. To which she said: "So what to Methodists believe in?"

Me: *gasp* know...God...Jesus...really not too different from Catholics, some stuff sure, but basically the same stuff.

Her: (awkwardly) Oh, ok.

Me: (trying to muster a decent response) Well, the Methodists really emphasize grace alot.

Her: *blink**blink*, grace before you eat?

Me: (feeling stupid/arrogant because I almost laughed) No, no, no, like...we're all really screwed up people but Jesus died for us and there's not much we can do to make up for that, but we try really hard anyway.

We somehow transitioned into scandals involving clergy and how destructive they are. Our conversation length was aided by the fact that the transaction I was trying to do was taking abnormally long.

But all this goes to show how insulated I am as a Christian, and a church staff person. Here you think that you can be all subvertive about the love of Christ and show people that in how you live, how you don't ever wanna be "in somebody's face" about relgiion/faith, whatever. Then next thing you know someone asks you a simple, honest question and you stand there dumbfounded! Ugh!

It also shows how "Christianeese" is not the vernacular of our time. What I meant by the deep, mysterious, theological contruct was taken for a much more practical ritual and they were both correct, but I assumed so much in my casual use of terminology. Whew. It was quite a trip.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Now I Understand

I had heard so many graduation speeches or sermons or blogs talk about C.S. Lewis I would get all snooty and thought he was played out. Now I know why so many people are just enamored with his writings. Some of us are going through "The Screwtape Letters" and i've been listening to "Mere Christianity" on audiobook. It's just nuts. Here's one good selection:

"One of our great allies at present is the Church itself...when he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing lituragy neither of them can understand...When he gets to his pew and round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided...Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have botts that squeak, or double chines, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous." (pgs 5-6) Written as a letter from one demon giving advice to another in securing a human soul for hell.

It's easy to have some high ideal of what church is like. But it's filled with people with a bunch of problems, just like me and you. Sometimes as a church staff member you can read so many books about leading or evangelising or discipling that you get so puffed up and concerned about the forest that you dont' take care of the trees. I hope that is as profound as it felt to type, or at least makes sense. More from Mr. Lewis soon i'm sure.

Comfortably Number

I found this guys blog over at Spitbox. This is a great expounding on the problem and importance of numbers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

3 posts in one day...amazing!

This was sent from my boy Justin, pretty nuts. Makes you want to quit playing guitar.

Are you serious?

Check this out

One More Sports Rant

Three things here.

1. The Gatorade-dump on the coach is played out. Seriously guys, can we be done with this? Unless i'm mistaken the whole thing started with the Giants winning the Super Bowl in the late 80's with Bill Parcells. After the 06-07 Bowl season, I even saw multiple dump attempts in the same game. Also, you run a high embarrassment risk if you dump on the coach when the game looks like it's in the bag...then the team comes back with a last minute win a la Boise State over OU. If you wanna make your coach proud, try not getting arrested. But if you're gonna try and be cute for the cameras, let's try and be a little more creative, if not more funny in our pranks on the coach:

-Why not have that third string quarterback sneak up behind coach on all fours, then have the offensive line coach give him the ol' shove? COMEDIC GOLD!
-Pass out those headsets the staff wears to everybody on the team, who then does their best coach impression.
-Howabout introducing the victory wedgie?

I'm just throwin those out there. You don't like em', throw em' right back. I'll try to stop using 'em' now.

2. Joakim Noah, give the screaming a rest man. If you're that intense about every play it just loses it's effectiveness. Last night you missed a dunk, got your own rebound (which was impressive), but then dished to your teamate who then scored. Rather than being modest on account of missing a jam, you still gave us your primal rage routine. Save it for the tourney.

3. The advertisements in sports are getting ridiculous. You can't even watch Sportscenter inbetween the massive amount of commercials without getting some in-program product promotion. Ugh! The Budweiser HotSeat, the Coors Light Silver Spotlight, the Burger King King of the night, it's like a live action Nascar hood. Does anyone watching ESPN need to be informed what brands of beer are available? I'm not even going to address all the erectile dysfunction commercials, which are bordering on obscene (I don't want to hear the word erection on TV, especially while watching a game with the fam).
But at least Sportscenter is consistant. Here in St. Louis the Blues now play in the Scott Trade Center, formerly known as the Saavis Center, ever more formerly known as the Kiel Center. Geez. Nobody around here knows what to call it. So this got me thinking, what if instead of capital campaigns in our congregation we just sold exclusive name rights to our buildings? Imagine: The Doritos Pulpit, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Early Childhood Center (KFC ECC), the Papa Johns Youth Night, the possibilities are endless!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dallas and Darwin

Ok, a late night rant is good. I haven't dabbled in sports too much since the Cards World Series victory (!) so here it goes.

Tony Romo. Dudes, this is a product of the hype. Let's recap shall we? Romo has like, 4 good games, one 5 touchdown game. He can move better than Bledsoe, and was rumoured (British spelling!) to have dated Jessica Simpson. Then, the Cowboys lose 4 of their last 5 games, lose their division, back into the playoffs and you botch the game winning field goal snap. Nice work for a bench player who got a quick ticket to the pro bowl. Ugh. I'm so tired of hearing about Romo, T.O., and all other things about the Dallas Cowboys ending in the letter "O". You had a nice run for about a month Romo, but i'm glad we're done with you for the year.

Notre Dame. I'm sorry, they're not that good. Who did they play this year? Nobody! A mildly tough away game against Georgia Tech to open the season where they managed to chalk up two scores. A win against UCLA, which is only significant because the Bruins beat USC the last game of the season, but then is negated by the fact that USC stuck it to the Fightin' Irish. Notre Dame is another product of the hype. They're simply not that good. Maybe take care of business against Michigan, USC, or LSU and then you can merit all the chatter on sports talk shows, until then i'm tired of them too. What would have been perfect is if Tony Romo had played at Notre Dame.

Ironically, we talked at youth group tonight about some of the similarities between Sports and the Church; a pretty good discussion!

Speaking of which, i'm still percolating on "Letter to A Christian Nation". Here's one thing I don't understand: How can you claim that man is product of biological hapenstance then subsequently claim that he should behave anything but instinctly like any other animal on the planet as a result of the same process? In other words, if man is a simple animal and you believe in Darwin's natural selection, then nothing in our lives should be anything except self preservation and the perseverence of the species. Darwin can explain why butterfly's have spots on their backs but not why you love your wife.

C.S. Lewis makes his case for this with his explaination of the moral law, or man's nature. More on that and better articulation about my thoughts on "Letter to a Christian Nation" soon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I just bought, read, and am reflecting on Sam Harris' Letter to A Christian Nation. In essence, Harris lays out his case that religion is threatening modern society as it does not alleviate human suffering but actually contributes to it. This book was written largely in response to negative feedback from Christians that Harris recieved over his NY Times bestseller "The End of Faith" which I also bought today but it's a lot longer. Harris favors the progress of science and rationality over the absurdity and irresponsibility of religion (not JUST Christianity, but mostly).

Harris has several good points, some of which I might even agree with. But overall this is a very polarizing strategy- remember, he's trying to sell books! He says some very inflamatory things, but it kept the pages turning. I'm gonna have a hayday with this one. More later.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Watching the NFL on Sunday at the end of the Chiefs game the announcer says:

"The NFL is the best thing going in America on Sundays." it?

Better, Faster, Stronger

Thanks to Steven for the link.

Chevy has announced a new and improved Malibu design.

This is it's 3rd makeover in 5 or so years and to be honest I'm not sure how I feel about it, not that it matters really.