Saturday, May 31, 2008

I will be married in three weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We can rebuild it...better...faster...but still pretty long

So I started posting pieces of my upcoming sermon for this Sunday, but I've redone pretty much the whole thing. So here it is in its entirety. This represents my attempt at a more narrative theology (telling a story) as opposed to a propositional discourse (like building a case or giving a lecture).

Probably not a good specimen of either, but I'm very interested in exploring "new ways to tell the old, old story" as my Dad likes to say. More on that later, for now here's what I've been workin on. If you read all the way to the end I'll salute you!

"The Cost of Community"

Matthew 22: 34-40

I spent my first two semesters of college as a psychology major. During my studies I learned about 20th century psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” is represented in pyramid form to display the different levels of human necessities. Once basic physical and emotional needs are met we can “move up” towards “self-actualization. To psychology’s credit we all suffer in varying degrees when all of those layers of needs are not met, but I disagreed with Maslow. Unconvinced that this is the way people work, I did not remain a psychology major for long, which was good news to at least one professor who on more than one occasion would refer to me as “the supreme skeptic”.

We as people do have certain needs. Maslow was right in that. But if we consider the strong words of Jesus, what does that tell us about our needs? Did Jesus give us the legal basis for physical needs to be administered justly so that we may move up to the next level of the pyramid? No, based on what Jesus tells me, I believe the most tender need of every person is to love and to be loved, to know and to be known. Now this is very easy to say when all your physical needs are met, so my perspective could very well be spoiled by privilege. But what does Jesus lift up above all else? Love. Love of God, love of neighbor. In this scene from Jesus life we see the Sadducees and Pharisees, theological and political enemies of Jesus, trying to trip him up and convict him on some technicality. But as Jesus routinely does, he makes quick work of their shallow tactics; giving them a taste of their own foot. In the same way the Pharisees were often silenced, we too can be humbled by the simultaneous simplicity and difficulty of these great commands. Jesus’ two great commands make us confront our selves and what we need most.

I believe that we are all created with a deep urge and capacity to love God and neighbor, to be in community. In Genesis chapter 2, God saw that “it was not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2: 18), in Proverbs we read “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27: 17), the author of the book of Hebrews urges us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10: 24). I believe the need to love and be loved is the whole pyramid, all other needs are met from life in community with God and neighbor.

In twenty days I will stand in this room, not far from where I am right now, to be married. Sarah and I have been together for over three years, engaged for over a year and a half. I actually keep a countdown on my phone with a little application called “D-Day” which is sort of funny. Believe me, I’m ready. I’m excited to make my commitment to Sarah, and start doing normal human things like keeping the house clean and not getting every meal from a drive through. It is a very strange thing: I’ll start wearing jewelry which is fairly new to me and it’s not like I’ll feel any different the day before or after the wedding. I don’t want to make too many people blush, but there is at least one obvious benefit to marriage that I’m pretty excited about. I’m speaking of course about my car insurance dropping. All boyish goofyness aside, the more I think about it I am so excited to have all our friends and family gathered in the same place. My best man has spent time abroad in France and Chile. Other groomsman live in Kentucky, California, and Kansas City. All my buddies are going to great efforts to come celebrate with us. There was a time when I might have been convinced to just skip all the hassle and elope. But I’ve arrived at a place where I treasure the opportunity to share that special day with everyone that matters to me. I’ve come to realize that what makes a wedding a wedding is the celebration and endorsement of the community.

It has however, been a long journey. For most of my life I was in the paradoxical situation of being friends with people that were all better looking than me, and my role was “the funny one”. I think high school is a struggle for just about everybody, but then you go to college and that’s where you’re supposed to meet “the one” right? There is a lot of pressure, because you think the window is already closing. In college my closest friends were engaged or in serious relationships. I remember being the third, fifth, or ninth wheel quite a bit. I thought I had a lot to offer and frankly, was hoping the guitar playing would finally pay off. At one point a couple girls actually said to me: “Adam, we just can’t figure out why you don’t have a girlfriend” Awesome. A comment which left me at once complimented and insulted. It seemed everyone was pairing up and I was left alone to wonder what was wrong with me. I wouldn’t change anything now, but those couple years of no real blips on the romantic radar screen taught me a lot. We can know our deep desire for community through both positive and negative experiences.

We are created for and commanded to be in community. If we know we need it, and we want to follow Jesus command of doing it what is so hard? I think the answer to that question lies in both external and internal factors. Have you ever noticed that a lot of times it’s easy to tell someone else what they should be doing with their life, but when it comes to self diagnosis it gets trickier? In the same way, it is easier to look for blame outside of ourselves than within. We’ll start on the outside and move inward.

Many of you here are like me and have had the distinct pleasure of dealing with Charter Cable company. If some folks work there I do not wish to be mean, but I have had many episodes of poor customer service. It really is amazing, on some level how Charter has a capacity to pry money out of my furious hands. In 2006 when we were setting up the cable in our apartment, they “installed it” but not correctly. It was a nightmare trying to get them to come back out to make things work. Meanwhile I refused to pay for cable I wasn’t getting and an installation fee for a botched installment. All this is to say, after a year of dealing with Charter’s ineptitude my sister and I decided to stick it to the man, save a little money, and go without cable when we moved into our rental house in August 2007. Except for some Sportscenter withdrawal, the decision to go without cable has been a great one. The first several weeks Kelly and I were amazed at how much we talked to each other. When we had friends over, we would play a game or just sit around and interact where we previously would have turned on one of the bazillion channels and just sat there, together, but not relating.

Years ago in the old days when people were impressed when you had an iPod, I would walk across my college campus wearing my little white headphones- that weren’t connected to anything. I would just stuff the end in my pocket, and that way I wouldn’t have to exchange the usual pleasantries with people I passed by. I could isolate myself in my own little bubble, without even having to listen to actual music, just pretending to be!

I think we’ve all witnessed the rude-guy-on-the-cell-phone phenomenon. Cell phones are great and can connect us with anyone around the country. But they also dis-connect us from everyone we’re around. My good buddy KC worked at QuikTrip for a couple years. One of the things that drove him nuts is when people were on their phones while paying. Because for the entire transaction he went un-noticed, he might as well have been a robot because there was no interaction between customer and clerk. It wasn’t just rude, on a deeper level this dehumanized KC. Friends, progress can lead us in the wrong direction. Technology is an external factor that can erode at our sense of community.

Have you ever seen one of those allergy medication commercials? For some reason everyone is in ridiculously bright clothes, the person talking is always in some big field with wild flowers everywhere and you almost sneeze just watching it. A couple weeks ago I saw a Zertyc commercial that proclaimed superiority over Claritin because it starts working two hours earlier. Zertyc’s entire premise was built around the time it took their medicine as opposed to the slower acting and thus inferior Claritin. What if we treated our relationships like this? I’d definitely be in trouble. I’m not often known as the “early, on time friend”.

Here’s an experiment I’d like you to do sometime. Go to Borders. Go to the self-help section, pick out a thick Tony Robbins book. Then go the eastern religion section and pick out a book by the Dali Lama about improving your life. Then go to the Christianity section and look around. Can you tell me that there’s a lot of difference between what Christians are putting out and what the other therapeutic folks are feeding us? Say this prayer and God will “enlarge your territory”. With God you can live “Your Best Life Now”. A relationship with Jesus can get turned into a sales pitch or a self-help book, and is indistinguishable from its worldly counterparts.

Community is relationships rooted in love, and love is simply caring for another’s needs before your own. Relationships aren’t like allergy medicine, and I have never read a book that really helped as much as it would have led me to believe.

This instant gratification stuff is in fact, not reality. So I ask you: What has been informing your expectations of community? Is it a true relationship with Jesus, guided by the authority of scripture? Or is it the junk that you’ve learned from our culture? Think about the imagery Jesus used. The stories Jesus tells are not stories of immediate satisfaction are they? In one of my favorites Jesus tells the story of the wise and foolish builders. Jesus speaks of a house being built and foundation being laid. I have built meager concrete homes in Juarez, Mexico. It is neither easy nor quick. Here’s the thing, our experience and scripture testify to the truth: meaningful relationships take time and they’re often inconvenient.

We’re told that the products we buy or the books we read will make our lives better and not only that, they’ll do it immediately! Our culture’s values are another external factor. Our culture exalts convenience and seats the individual at the center of the universe. Jesus doesn’t.

In early May the University of Kentucky’s basketball program was in the news. Basketball coach Billie Gillespie recruited a player named Michael Avery from Lake Sherwood, California. The young player gave the Wildcats a verbal commitment. This was a big deal because young Mr. Avery was in the 8th grade. 8th grade. Kids being recruited for a major college basketball program when it’s no guarantee that the coach will even be there by the time the recruit is old enough to play for UK. Do you find this as absurd as I do?

In middle school we had an assembly that our guidance counselors lead. It was all about “career paths”. The counselors told us about the importance of thinking about your future and that we should be taking classes that would help us in our prospective career path. At that time I wanted to be a journalist, since I was a co-editor of the Hollenbeck Middle School paper. The year before I wanted to be a pilot, but then someone told me that you couldn’t be a pilot if you had glasses. For some reason this career paths assembly really sticks out in my head. Of course in middle school I also being mistaken for my Mother when people would call the house. I was not ready to start thinking about career paths.

Now if you found the UK recruit story shocking but are not alarmed by my career path assembly I’d be very interested to know why. To me they’re both symptoms of the American Dream: “success”. Kids shouldn’t be recruited for D-1 programs and kids shouldn’t be expected to make their career choices when they’re just beginning the struggle of figuring out who they are. I see the drive and pressure to be successful strangling our sense of community and killing our students. Kids should not have homework in the summer. This is insane. Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking that every chemistry test will have infinite impact on their destiny. Kids shouldn’t be made to believe that how good they look or what they wear or what team they’re on or what how many gifted classes they’re in or how full their calendar is or where they’re going to college or how much money they will make define what they’re worth.

The third external factor is the tempting, shiny American Dream. You better do a lot, and you better do it well, and you better do it early, that is what our kids our being made to believe “success” is. But are we so rushed, so stressed, so wiped out that we really don’t have the energy to be in relationship to the people we find ourselves doing all this stuff with? When our priority is “success” we will be left empty. When we pursue success at the expense of loving God and neighbor it is idolatry.

Well, I told you we’d look to the external factors that hinder community and we have. Our culture’s technology, values, and priorities put us at odds with the formation of community. We are in a time and place that is becoming increasingly stifling to meaningful relationships. It’s easy to blame external things, to play victim to culture. But we can’t treat culture, society as if it’s some vague abstract force of evil. Culture and society are made up of a bunch of people like us, it is made up of…US!

Several years ago I agreed to be a part of a 3rd through 5th grade church camp. Four days with about 60 children. I must admit, it pushed my desire to have kids back by at least a decade. I’m sort of uncomfortable around little kids. I don’t know what to say to them ya know? “Oh hey Timmy! Say, what are your thoughts on campaign finance reform!?!?” In my limited experience with tiny little humans there is one thing I’ve noticed. They usually don’t know how to say much, but they sure do know how to say “mine”. I am amazed at kids obsession with what is “theirs”. Again, I want to say “what, like you got a job and paid for that video game” but that would be both futile and cruel. I wish I could say that we grew out of it. The biggest barrier to community, the major culprit in our breaking of Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbor does not come from without, it comes from within. It’s our pride.

Pride is opposed to love. Pride is concerned with the preservation or promotion of self. Love is concerned with the well being and needs of the other. The cost of community is sacrificing your pride and what comes with it: your time and energy.

I am the son of a United Methodist Pastor. Currently my Dad is at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Lee’s Summit MO. So I’m not new to the fact that people somehow treat church and things associated with it differently than anything else in their life. When I was in 2nd grade we lived in St. Charles and our house needed a paint job. Part of the Pastor’s salary includes a parsonage, a house the church owns that the Pastor and their family live in. Rather than hiring professionals the church trustees decided they’d take care of it. The day comes and sure enough good folks are there painting the house. Problem is they only painted half of it. For over a year. That’s right, it is what you’re thinking. Half of our house was grey-blue, the other half yellow. I learned from an early age that being a part of the church would mean sacrificing your pride. It’s pretty hard to take yourself too seriously when you’ve got a house that looks like a Steak N’ Shake side by side milkshake.

The trustees didn’t take our family’s need seriously enough, and we don’t take Jesus’ commands to love God and neighbor seriously enough. Our hearts are half painted because we still grip our pride tightly. Jesus tells us that if we love him we must obey his commands.

When we follow Jesus, when we love God and neighbor it forces us to come to grips with the fact that we’re not a big deal. Growing out of childish attitudes, your time and energy aren’t just “yours” anymore. We have to drop the instant-satisfaction expectations of our culture and realize that community requires a sacrifice of time. Nothing meaningful is ever very quick. See when you really take the time to get to know people, become vulnerable, and start learning that everyone is as screwed up as you are it will shake you. You will be burdened by the troubles of others. You will feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of hurt and pain in the lives of people around you. To know the inner struggles of other folks and love them even still is absolutely draining. Letting other people know that you do not in fact have it all together is so scary. Letting light shine on the dark things within- letting go of pride, sacrificing time and energy; this is what authentic relationships, true community demand. This is what it takes to follow Jesus’ commands.

It is only when we let go of our needs and look to the needs of others that we find that all our needs are taken care of. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16: 25) That doesn’t sound like anything I ever heard in psychology class. It is only when we are willing to sacrifice our time, energy, and pride that we will be ready to take up our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9: 23). The American Dream is not God’s dream. It is only when we give up hope in our culture’s technology, values, and priorities that we may find hope in Christ. When we’ve paid the cost then we can experience the true peace, joy, and hope of community.

We have peace because we know we’re not in this alone. We are part of a community that we can count on. We are joyful because we find fulfillment not in ourselves, or in the vanity of our culture but in Jesus Christ. Our culture is obsessed with the latest and greatest. As author and Pastor Rob Bell has said, “if it’s true than it isn’t new”. Everything I’ve tried to tell you today is unimaginably old!

Ultimately in community we have hope. Our community can truly be the body of Christ, Jesus’ representatives on Earth, bringing his love in a real way. We can see all the terrible things in the world, and know that it doesn’t have to be like this. We can see transformation in our lives, our in relationships, and in our world.

In the summer of 2006 a dear friend of mine was killed in a drunk driving accident. My friend Tyler was driving another buddy Chad to the airport. Early in the morning he was struck head on by a man going the wrong way on I-70. Tyler died at the scene. Over a year later I happened to see a headline that caught my eye, it was the sentencing of Tyler’s killer. Steve Downey, Tyler’s Father had the opportunity to address the man who killed his son. From the article: "Steven Downey, choking back tears as he spoke…said he spoke for his son and other victims in court, and he also wanted to speak for Jesus Christ." As his representative, I want to forgive Calvin (the man being sentenced) and tell him with Jesus in his life, he can make better decisions." Steve Downey is a faithful witness to the transformation that a life in Christ brings. Instead of wrath Steve brought grace. Instead of shame Steve demonstrated mercy. The Downey’s are supported by a community that has been with them, offering hope as they struggle with the death of their son.

Friends I believe that the church is the hope for the world. We can be easily discouraged when we look at the prices on the gas pumps, the disasters in the East, the decadence in the West, and the tension between the two. We can worry about our children’s safety and security in a dangerous and uncertain future. We do not find hope in the ways of the world, in our culture’s technology, values, and priorities. We look to Jesus Christ, the head of his body, the church. The church has endured for over 2,000 years. I believe that the same God who created the world, called Abraham out of the desert, delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, spoke through the Prophets of Israel, gave us his Son, and raised him from the dead will see his creation restored to good. We are created and commanded to love God and neighbor, to be in community. We can participate in God’s vision if we are willing do to what it takes, to pay the cost of community.

Friday, May 23, 2008

An Open Letter to George Lucas

Dear Mr. Lucas,

You have given us two unbelievably wonderful film franchises. Indeed, Indiana Jones and Star Wars are part of the fabric of western civilization. I fondly recall re-enacting the scenes while I watched Star Wars as a child; in particular in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is captured by that big fuzzy snow monster. I would hang off of my couch upside down and stretch out for my light saber/flashlight. For whatever reason McDonalds sold The Temple of Doom on VHS circa 1992. I watched it so much the tape wore out, and I still do a pretty good scary-horned-heart-ripper out-guy impression.

But George, the time has come for you to stop making films. Its getting ridiculous. You are ruining your legacy with the garbage screenplays you are putting out. I fear that the steps forward of CGI technology has actually made your movies take many, many steps back. In the 70's and 80's, you pioneered special effects techniques to make what was going on in your head appear on screen. Now, with lush CGI your unbridled imagination has given us Jar-Jar-Binks and Indiana Jones son swinging vine to vine with a pack of benevolent primates.

Your movies have devolved. Great films in the pantheon of cinema have been disgraced. Lucasfilm is now akin to a guy at a party still trying to squeeze a couple more laughs out of old beer commercial bits.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the last straw. I really, really, really wanted to like this movie. In fact, I thought there was almost no way I wouldn't like it. Well, there was. I won't spoil it for everyone who hasn't seen it. But suffice it to say: Save your money and go see Iron Man again. So Mr. Lucas, I urge you to have some decency and stop making movies.

Did I call this one or what??? Say it ain't so George, say it ain't so.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Help build wells, get cool stuff!

Donald Miller is biking across America to raise awareness and support for blood water mission. Their goal is to build 1,000 wells in Africa.

If you go to Don's website and donate, you even get to download the first chapter of his upcoming book! This whole thing is really great, even without the sweet advanced copy PDF action. Check it out.

The Cost of Community (abridged) > Part 3 > Values

Very much related to technology is our values. Our culture exalts convenience. New products are driven by technology that is faster, better, or cheaper. Just the other day I saw a Zertyc commercial that proclaimed superiority over Claratin because it starts working two hours earlier. Do you see what I mean? This can be a very dangerous concept, because that’s not how relationships work do they? If we treat our relationships the way that we treat our allergy medicine then we’ll be sorely disappointed.

Advertisements we are exposed to shape our expectations of reality. Spin and exaggeration rule. We’re told that the products will make our lives better and not only that, they’ll do it immediately! TUMS- instant relief. DAWN- new tablets to make your dishes sparkle, and you become a superior homemaker. LEXUS- the pursuit of perfection. The promise of these products is ultimately bankrupt, because we long for much more than clean dishes or intestinal peace. But what happens in a convenience driven culture is the gospel becomes distorted: Say this prayer and God will “enlarge your territory”. With God you can live “Your Best Life Now”. A relationship with Jesus can get turned into a sales pitch. But the message we get from Jesus is much different from the rapid satisfaction our culture teaches. This instant gratification stuff is in fact, not reality. So I ask you: What has been informing your expectations of community? Is it a true relationship with Jesus, guided by the authority of scripture? Or is it the junk that you’ve learned from our culture? Let us consider some of the things that Jesus said.

Matthew 13: 1-9 (the parable of the sower)
John 15: 1-8 (the vine and the branches)
Luke 6: 46-48 (the wise man on the rock)

Think about the imagery Jesus used. Is it because he lived in a largely agricultural society? Maybe. But you don’t think people back then liked stuff to get done fast? The stories Jesus tells are not stories of instant satisfaction are they? Many times Jesus speaks like we’ve heard in the first two stories- stories about things growing. Plants taking root or the pruning of branches- these are long, complicated processes that take much care. In the story of the wise man, Jesus speaks of a house being built and foundation being laid. I have built meager concrete homes in Juarez, Mexico. It is neither easy nor quick. Here’s the thing, our experience and scripture testify to the truth: meaningful relationships take time and they’re often inconvenient. For those married, consider how long you took before you decided to give yourselves to each other? For all of us, consider the time and energy it takes to build a friendship that lasts and that matters. Much of the frustration of going to college, a new school, or moving is that you know you’re going to have to start all over. Relationships take time and they are hard work.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Cost of Community (abridged) > Part 2 > Technology

Technology has always been a crucial determiner in the course of human history. People with bronze and iron weapons beat the guys with wood weapons. Spaniards with guns beat entire civilizations with spears. People with access to medication and complex medical procedures have greater health than those without. The 20th century was no exception. We saw technological advances that have shaped our world. The “progress” is certainly speeding up in the 21st century. In the 1960’s we put humans into space. Now Virgin Galactic will make that possible for anyone who can put up the cash. In the 1980’s a “cellular phone” was a totally different animal; not only were people impressed that you could afford it but that you could lift it! Now there are children carrying around a device that not only makes calls, but can take pictures, record videos, and access the internet. Now, things like that get me excited; because I can sneak a peak at my fantasy team in the middle of youth group! But do we realize the impact technology has had in recent years on community?

Now, prepare to be impressed because I’m about to quote from a 2006 article titled “The Malignant Social Consequences of Modern Technology on Communities!” Written for the Journal of Evolution & Technology, the author highlights air conditioning, the automobile, and television as three advances in technology that eroded at community. This makes a lot of sense. Before AC, people spent a lot of time on their porch because it was too dang hot in the house, now you can stay comfy indoors- away from all your neighbors. In our cars we can travel long distances without having to interact with anyone, and we are robbed of exchanging casual courtesies with people we could have passed in the street. The impact of television is huge: not only is community crumbling within our neighborhoods, but within our own homes! You can sit in a room with your family watching TV, even during dinner, but are you actually doing anything meaningful or just all starring at the lighted box? Since last August my sister and I have been without cable; partly to save money, but mostly to stick it to Charter, one of the most inept companies on the face of the planet. The first several weeks Kelly and I were amazed at how much we talked to each other. When we had friends over, we would play a game or just sit around and interact where we previously would have turned on one of the bazillion channels and just sat there, together, but not relating. Our technology allows us to be around other people but not really with them. Cell phones and MP3 players erode at our community. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Walking across my college campus I would put in headphones- that weren’t connected to anything. I would just stuff the end in my pocket, and that way I wouldn’t have to exchange the usual pleasantries with people I passed by. Cell phones offer the promise of connecting with anyone across the country- and at the same time disconnecting with everyone around you.

Am I saying that we should all grow beards, forsake technology, and join the Amish? No. Although it would be cool if we all grew beards. I think we’ve all witnessed the rude-guy-on-the-cell-phone phenomenon, but if it weren’t for my cell phone, and free AT&T in network minutes, I honestly don’t know how Sarah and I would have survived our 3 year long distance relationship. With TiVo your whole family can enjoy a show together, without having to schedule your lives around the next episode of “idol”. The Nintendo Wii is one of the best inventions ever. My whole family can play together, and I’m even embarrassed to admit that my 82 year old Grandmother beat me in Tennis! Technology can lead us into good community, but we have to work hard at it. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the impact of technology on community. Progress can lead us in the wrong direction.

The Cost of Community (abridged) > Part 1

*this is in preparation for a sermon I'm giving June 1. Input is welcomed! I won't put the entire text of the sermon up here, because nobody reads it. Also, it's hard to talk about something as important as community, because it's such a buzzword. I will contribute the following to the discussion.
Matthew 22: 34-40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Now love requires what? A relationship. You cannot love others without in fact being in community with others. Implicit in Christ’s command is that we be in community. We are to love God and one another as we relate to each other. It all comes down to caring and thinking about others before yourself. You cannot follow Jesus command to love God and neighbor in isolation. It is loving relationships that drive Christianity, nothing else. These relationships form the community that is the church.

But we live in a culture that is becoming increasingly stifling to meaningful relationships; a time and place at odds with the formation of community. We all buy into this in varying degrees, and in a moment I’ll show you what I mean. As a church we must strive to reclaim our relationships with God and each other, to place them where they belong, where Jesus put them, right at the top.

So what makes loving God and other people so hard? Of all the possible ways to answer that question, I want to lift up three factors that impact community: technology, values, and priorities.

stay tuned for more!

Friday, May 16, 2008

"I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It"

For a long time I thought things like Focus on the Family's Plugged In were for up tight folks. Consider this line from the "Iron Man" movie review: "He shows very little regard for traffic laws or public airspace." GUYS, COME ON.

But maybe the efforts of Plugged In and other groups like them aren't so bad. I used to roll my eyes at the fundy's who insulated themselves from everything except Michael W. But the more I listen to the radio the closer I get to old-fashioned-ness. It's a terrible feeling, but we'll get into that later. But let us look at a couple parts of the song "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry. The song is currently #35 on the Billboard Top 100 and number 18 on iTunes top singles. If you'd like to hear/see the song, here is the video link.
Verse 1:
This was never the way I planned | Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand | Lost my discretion
It's not what, I'm used to | Just wanna try you on
I'm curious for you | Caught my attention

I kissed a girl and I liked it | The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it | I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong | It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight | I kissed a girl and I liked it I liked it

Verse 2:
No, I don't even know your name | It doesn't matter
Your my experimental game | Just human nature
It's not what, good girls do |Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused | Hard to obey
This is playing on the radio. A lot. I will have middle schoolers who will know all the words to this, I guarantee it. I can't decide if the worst part is getting drunk and excusing your actions, the actual kissing of another girl, or treating said girl as an object, an "experimental game".

This song, this album, this artist are all absolute garbage. I would link to her site, but I'm embarrassed because of some of the other content.

As I've said before navigating the waters of entertainment for me is tricky. Why do I find alcohol driven lesbian encounters offensive but not all the killing in Iron Man, which I thought was great? Arrrggg!!!!

Well, I just wanted to point out how terrible this song is to everyone. It communicates that people are objects and that you can just do whatever you feel like, especially if you're drinking, and that there are no consequences for whatever you happen to have done because of however you happened to be feeling.

This is not reality.

What do we do with this trash?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

World's Tallest Man

So yesterday my almost-wife got her wisdom teeth removed. Doing my almost-husbandly duty drove her to the dentist in Alton, IL. Being a fairly lengthy procedure I brought some reading. Instead of just sitting in the crowded office, and being that it was so nice outside, I decided to take a stroll around Alton. I stopped at two different churches along the way to see if I could read in there- both locked. Real welcoming guys. I then settled on trying to find some sort of picnic table or park bench.

So I grabbed a Dr. Pepper and a Nutty Bar (my favorites) from a gas station- then, lo and behold, I came across a nice little park. This was not just any park my friends. This was a memorial to "Alton's Gentle Giant" the 8'11 Robert Pershing Wadlow. The world record holder for tallest man.

You never know what might be around the corner. Maybe it's something really cool you don't even know about. Something like this:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


"We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer
My friend Andy had this video up a couple weeks ago. Although there is a bit of a cheesy factor I think it has a great point.

We have no idea what most everyone around us is going through. None. Although choices people make are still right and wrong, we certainly can't just make assumptions and assume that everyone starts with the same clean slate. I love this quote and am trying to let it sink into my life and how I think about people; because so many are hurting, lonely, insecure, scarred, or struggling with addiction. My prayer is for the church to be "a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints".

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The church as a mission, not fortress

Last Wednesday at worship we looked at the following scripture:

Matthew 16: 13-18
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ,the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

I've heard this many times, but only recently read the distinction that gates are defensive. So the church is to be a like a rescue mission, going "behind enemy lines" to rescue the captives.

I think that is such a cool image. The church isn't a fortress keeping bad people out, and keeping teenagers locked in so they can't have sex. It's about being on a mission with God. Is this new? No. But I think it's very profound.

Pastor John Drage from a church on the campus of Mizzou came and spoke, and it was wonderful!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hey kids! Can you say "collusion"?!?!?

It's not every day you learn a new word. posts this article about free agents like Barry Bonds and Kenny Lofton not being signed to any MLB teams. The players association is investigating for possible collusion (secret agreement, esp. for fraudulent or treacherous purposes; conspiracy.)

Hhhmmm...Maybe it is collusion. Or maybe

-Barry is old
-Barry is a distraction to a team, as he is a walking media circus
-Barry has not been Mr. Congeniality in the locker room
-Barry could very well be facing perjury charges soon

But other than that, who wouldn't sign him!?

If there's two occasions where multiple question marks and exclamations are used- I hope you're picking up the sarcasm here! COME ON. This is ridiculous! Barry is washed up, so why does it have to be some big conspiracy? Take the hint!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Movie Review>Iron Man

YES! I missed opening weekend, heard it was gonna be awesome from some friends, but was a little worried. I'm the type of person that hypes things up in my mind to the point where the actual event never lives up to my ridiculous expectations. Iron Man delivered! I went with my now home-for-good almost wife, her sister, and her sister's husband (who had already seen it, which should tell you something). We all had a blast.

It doesn't take itself to seriously, doesn't require a huge amount of "voluntary suspension of disbelief", and isn't just all stuff blowing up. Loved it, would see it again, look forward to buying it on DVD.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Words I Regularly Mis-Spell






Weather/Whether (more of when to use which one)

To All the Haters

On espn and elswhere in the media, I've heard blogging being criticized for being negative. Well, here's a completely positive list of awesome stuff:

-Mario Kart Wii. This came out about a week ago. You steer with the Wii controller! Amazing. I had an event at church all day, so my friend went and picked it up for me (I had reserved it). My two friends and I then proceeded to play for multiple hours, while his Mom/my almost Mom made us frozen pizza. I felt like I was in 8th grade again, and it was good.

-Online streaming video of TV shows. It's worth saying again. This blows my mind. Apparently NBC and FOX have teamed up to create

-The Cardinals. Went 2-1 with the Cubbies in the home series, and are in 1st place in the NL Central.

-Cold stone ice cream

-Since I got my car fixed it doesn't sound like an F-15 anymore

-Listened to more of the OneRepublic CD. Mr. Caldwell I was way behind!

-I hear Iron Man was great, and I plan to confirm that this week

-Getting married in 47 days and counting

-Luo an organization for orphans in Africa

Friday, May 02, 2008

Back from the Dirty South

Rolled in yesterday from the orange conference. "Thats a peculiar name, wonder what that was about" you might be saying. Well I'll tell you. The orange conference is about collaboration and integration of children's and youth ministry. Its about two spheres of influence combining to have a greater sphere of influence. So, if children's ministry is yellow, and youth ministry is red, when you combine them you get- orange. Some might think thats cheesy, and thats fine. It was very well done and I think I have a lot of good material not only for blogging but better ministry.

In other news, my special lady friend graduates tomorrow! So she will no longer be a citizen of Marshall, and back where she belongs, so that love can lift us up where we belong.