Archive for July, 2012

First Church Year #28: Support

July 31, 2012 8 comments

This week’s edition of the First Church Year series brought something different.  Once again we didn’t go to our church.  No, we didn’t skip church or take a break.  This week we visited another church.

Don’t worry.  We aren’t getting ready to begin a new church search.  Been there.  Done that blogging series.  Don’t want to do it again.

No, this week we visited my daughter’s boyfriend’s church.

The reason we did this was because Lauren’s boyfriend (let’s call him John since that’s his name) John recently returned from a mission trip to India.

Just about everyone who went on this mission trip spoke.  I didn’t take notes, so I don’t know what each one specifically spoke about.  However, each one expressed what I would call several themes.  These included:

  • The poverty in India
  • The love within the Church in India
  • The focus on Christ in the Church in India

There was much more that could be said.  However, I get asked sometimes why anyone would want to go on a mission trip to another culture when there are so many to help here.  The fact is that in many ways followers of Christ in another culture like India can teach those of us here in the USA much more than we can teach them. 

Have you ever gone to a foreign culture on a mission trip?  Would you like to go on one?

Hey Now, You’re An All-Star

July 30, 2012 9 comments

Normally on Monday you tune in to find the First Church Year series.  Don’t worry, that will be back tomorrow.  Today, however, I have something different.  Way different.

After last year, they said it wouldn’t last.  The powers that be said it couldn’t be done again.  What happened?

Rob and Ricky upped the game.

It’s time for the 2nd Annual Blogging All Stars Challenge.

What is the Blogging All Stars Challenge?  It’s only the most awesome contest in the history of the internets.  It’s Team Rob vs. Team Ricky.  It’s Rob’s team of heavy hitters, with a small time guy vs. Ricky’s team of great guys and gals that we will soon call losers.

I am honored to participate in this.  Honestly, I was taken by surprise when Rob contacted me to participate.  Then I saw who was on our team.  Here is the rundown of Team Rob.

Tyler Stanton — C’mon, dude is a legend with all of the great videos he makes with Tripp.  Average’ is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Tyler Tarver — Tyler is, well, like the only rapping math whiz I’ve ever seen.  He has revolutionized the To-Do List.  Plus, he has one of the greatest accents ever.

Jon Acuff — What can I say about my boy that I haven’t already said.  Best friends? Check.  Forever memories?  Check.  Unicorns and rainbows?  Check.

Carlos Whittaker— I don’t know Carlos very well.  I may be one of the few that don’t follow him on a regular basis.  That is to my detriment.  Carlos is a ragamuffin soul pursuing the Lord with all he’s got.

Leanne Shirtliffe — Yes, the Ironic Mom herself.  I don’t know her all that well either, but she is Canadian and I love her bacon.  We had a Twiter conversation once where we shared our love for the old days of SCTV.

Tamara Lunardo — Tamara is the only person I know who has actually made it to Freshly Pressed on Word Press.  She has a few tattoos, uses more colorful language than many of us, and love the Lord.  I also submitted a guest post to her, didn’t make it and created my own non-guest post about the experience that worried her for a few days.

Bryan Allain — This guy has the mojo.  Blogging mojo, that is. And he can show you how to get it in 31 days.  Plus, he’s got a Killer Tribe just for you.  Bryan lives in Amish country and never fails to disappoint.

Knox McCoy — Knox loves the Batchelor.  And the Batchelorette.  I’m not really sure why, but hey, I’m sure he would question some of my TV choices too.  On top of his own blog, which brings the meatloaf on Mondays, he runs TV Asylum with the aforementioned Tyler Stanton.

Stephen Haggerty — Stephen is bearded and an idealist.  He brings us other great beards on a monthly basis and great humor every time he puts character to screen.  He leads worship and will soon call Chik-Fil-A his office.

Then there’s me.  I look at this list of heavy hitters and I’m just glad to be riding their coat tails in this whole shebang.

If you want to know about the competition, you will have to visit Rob’s site and check them out.  You will be checking out the losing team of the contest, but you need to go over there anyway.  (Note: I love everyone on the other team.  I just love to trash talk.)

Now, about this contest.  I need your help. Follow the link and head on over to Rob’s place and vote.  Vote for Team Rob.  Vote early and often.  If you have a dog or cat, get them to vote.  If you have a cemetery nearby, get those folks to vote.  Retweet this blog post and share it on Facebook.  I want to win.  Because that will make me a winner.  And I don’t want the consolation prizes like Turtle Wax and Rice-A-Roni.

Will you vote for Team Rob?  A vote for Rob’s team means you love puppies and order in the universe.  And go visit the blog sites for all of the great bloggers in this contest.

Authority At Jesus’ Trial

As we move into chapter 19, we see authority in three ways as Jesus’ trial winds down.  We see authority unwanted, authority’s source and authority misplaced.

Authority Unwanted

Pilate has done everything he can do to avoid crucifying Jesus.  He had offered to release Jesus, but the Jews insisted on Barabbas.  Imagine the American people wanting a terrorist released over a preacher.  That helps us put it in perspective.

Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged some more.  The soldiers put a crown of thorns on Him.  They make Christ into a caricature of what an earthly king would be like.  Pilate hopes that showing the Jews that Jesus is no threat will satisfy them.  However, they are thirsty for death.

Pilate finally tells them to crucify Jesus themselves.  The Jews don’t want the blood on their hands.  They want their laws to lead to death, but they don’t want to be the executioners.  No one, seemingly, wants to pronounce the order to take Jesus to the cross.

Authority’s Source

After the Jews tell Pilate that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate returns to question Him some more.  He asks Jesus where He is from.  Is there some fear in Pilate?  Is there a hint of wondering if Jesus might be who the Jews say He claims to be?  After all, Christ has not reacted the way a normal person would who is facing death.

Jesus gives what seems like  one of His typical answers.  He tells Pilate that he “has no authority unless it has been given to him from above.”

This must have made an impact on Pilate because he once again attempts to find a way to release Jesus.  Pilate wants no part in the death of Jesus.

Authority Misplaced

The Jews tell Pilate that he is no friend of Caesar if he releases Jesus.  He brings Jesus out to them and presents Christ to the Jews saying, “Behold your King.”

By now the reaction the Jews have should not be unexpected, but it is shocking to actually see it.  They react by saying that they have no king other than Caesar.  Where once they claimed God as their only King and then would only have accepted a king from the line of David, now they are selling their souls to keep the status quo and their power.  They accept authority over themselves to keep the authority they have over the Jewish people.

Who has authority over your life?

The Blue Heron

July 28, 2012 7 comments

 On my way to minister, I step onto my deck.  To the left, I can see trees lining a long ditch.  Just to the right is a rocky knoll.  Nine miles beyond it I am reminded why these are mountains of smoke.

 My truck disturbs the Sunday morning quiet. Turning left out of the driveway, the Big Oak faces me.  A winter ago a bear cub ran from there past the house.  More recently two turkeys strolled there and back like two lovers on a country lane.
Sharply to the right I find myself between the Big Field and Koella’s.  A coyote would not be unexpected, but that idea is for naught.
I turn left toward Lizzie’s.  I look over to the left in the woods and look at the husk of the rock house.  Who lived there and when?  What happened to cause it to be abandoned?
Perry’s yard is full of perfectly straight lines of trees and flowers.  Always straight.  Always there.
Slowing down, I yield.  Nothing coming down the hill, yet I still yield.  I continue on, beginning to put my game face on for the preaching to come.
Rolling past the trailer park, that skinny, annoying dog comes flying out and snaps at my tires.  How long will she survive before she mis-times her chase and finds death?  
Gazing over at the recycled house, I expect nothing.  That’s when I see it.
The blue heron.
Gliding above the wet weather creek and beside my truck.  I pace it until I see the old garage.  I lose sight of it and search in vain.  I give up hope of seeing it again.
There it is.
Standing in the road in front of me.
I stop and watch it.  Her?  Him?  How do you tell with a bird?  I’m amused.  The bird looks bored.  It turns and flies over into the Hensley’s yard.
This is what I see.
I continue to watch, amazed at this bird.  I used to call it the crane when it stood in the river, until I learned better.
I wonder if there was a purpose God created the heron for.  Has anyone ever eaten them?  Are there many of them left?
I continue to look and remember that when God was done creating, He called it good.
Does the blue heron have a purpose?
To provide God pleasure.
I look up to the Lord and thank Him.  Thank Him for His creation.  With it, I groan.  I groan for His return.  I long for the curse to be totally removed.
I praise Him.  If I didn’t, the heron might.  Perhaps it is.  Perhaps we are praising Him together.
I thank Him for the reminder.
I thank Him for the blue heron.
I have been ministered to.
I am ready to minister.

Missing The Forest For The Trees

I love studying the word of God.

I love to dig in and look at the sentence structure.  I love to find out what the words mean.  I love to divide up the paragraphs and outline chapters.

I love the trees of studying the Bible.

What I don’t love is missing the forest for the trees.

Sometimes that’s what I think some of us do.  Sometimes that’s what I think I have the tendency to do.

I run around looking at all of the variety of pretty trees.  And sometimes I can miss the forest.

I can tell you everything there is to know about a certain passage of scripture after I study it for a while. 

What I might miss and forget to tell you about is the point.

What is the point of the scripture you and I may study?  We might see it in the detailed study of a section of scripture.  We just need to be sure to not miss the pont of what we’re studying.

Do you ever miss the forest for the trees?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,

On Being A Dangerous Christian Blogger

Jeff Goins recently wrote a blog post that encouraged those of us who read his posts to be dangerous.  After all, we write our little posts and, at the end of the day, we want people to read them.  We want to engage an audience.

I have thought about that and wondered what being a dangerous blogger looks like.  What does a dangerous Christian blogger look like?

Jon Acuff is a dangerous, Christian blogger.  I have written several posts about how Jon and I are practically best friends.  We hung out for, like, 30 seconds at The Walk in Knoxville, TN last September.  We had our picture made together.  I need to send that to Jon so that he can put it in a frame and keep it on his desk.

Jon writes a Christian satire blog.  He pokes loving fun at us because he is one of us.  He laughs at so much of the crazy stuff we do in our churches because he goes to church and has for his entire life.  Hey, he’s a PK.

But it’s dangerous.  Satire is dangerous.  I can’t do it.  I tried.  I failed.  I had to switch churches. (Well, that’s not the entire reason, but it helped move me in that direction.)

I ground my axe for some time, fussing and complaining about what happens in churches and the Church.  That didn’t make me dangerous.  That just made me negative.

So, now, I try to be a dangerous, Christian blogger.  I think about some of the stuff we do.  I wonder if we shouldn’t change some of it.  And I try to make you think about it.

Sometimes that’s dangerous.

Do you know any dangerous bloggers?  Christian bloggers?  Dangerous Christian bloggers?

The Curious Case Of Angry Bloggers

I have not always written this blog or any of my previous blogs for the right reasons.  I have used this to grind my personal axes.  I have thought it was my responsibility and duty to let everyone know what I thought was wrong and screwed up in the Church and churches.  I have even written a few blog posts in the past after someone or something made me angry.

And I am not unique.

I read a lot of other blogs.  I check some out just to see what is going on out there in this massive world we call Christianity.

Guess what I find?

I find a lot of angry bloggers.

I can tell that some of them try to hide it.  Some of them, at least, don’t try to pretend.  They let their readers know every time someone out there writes or blogs something that they disagree with.

A few of them like to take on what I call celebrity preachers and writers.  They read these guys books and blogs.  They follow them on Twitter.  They listen or watch their videos that are posted.

And then they react.

They write their reactions.

They write their rebuttals.

They take on these guys head to head.


I don’t know.

I can guess.  But I don’t know their motivation.  Perhaps they know this will drive readers to their own blogs.  Maybe it’s because they have a book deal and they want to sell books.  Maybe it’s because someone will consider them an authority on these subjects and they will get to appear on CNN or NPR.

I don’t know.  I don’t know them and probably won’t know.

I wish more of these folks would take the attitude Ronald Reagan did when he ran for president against Jimmy Carter.  During a debate, President Carter began stating a position completely opposite of Reagan.  I think his hope was that Reagan would get mad and display his temper.  What did Reagan do?  He laughed and said, “There you go again.”

I wish that my brothers and sisters in Christ would take this attitude more often.  If someone says or does something that they don’t like, just laugh and move on.  Convince me and the rest of the world of your position instead of fighting someone else’s. 

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe they don’t have a position worth persuading anyone to.  Maybe they just want everyone to be caught up in their outrage.

These folks don’t make me angry.  I get a little sad when I read them.  They are talented.  They have tremendous ability.  They just seem angry all of the time.

Do angry bloggers turn you on or off?