Friday, December 26, 2008

Spend, spend, spend.

I'm pretty sure that I don't agree with Fred Thompson on all the issues. I'm not sure I would have voted for him. But much of this is pretty brilliant.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve Heat Miser

According to my iPhone weather forecast, it's supposed to be 53 degrees on Christmas Eve.


Go away Mr. Heat Miser!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Play, the sequel (4 years later)

Almost 4 years ago I wrote this post.

Go ahead, read it. I will wait.


You done? Good.

The other night my wife and I took our daughter sledding for the first time. It was really a spur of the moment thing. I was going to make a snowman with her in the front yard. Wrong kind of snow. So I pulled her around on a sled in our yard (which is basically flat). There is a small dip in the yard, and when she went down the dip (I thought she wouldn't like it -- she frightens easily) she giggled at the top of her lungs and yelled, "Wheee!"

The quest was on.

Now, I live in a town called, "The Plains."

No, really.

This is NOT a good name for a town when you want to go sledding. But we went over to a local church in the next neighborhood over that has a small hill behind it. Driving by, the hill hardly seems big enough to sled on. But walking up the hill with a four-year-old, the hill seemed mammoth. I had visions of her getting on the sled, going down the hill, crying and screaming -- never wanting to get on a sled ever again.

She had a ball. She loved it.

Her mom and her went first. And originally I was just going to let the two of them keep going. Two years ago I had surgery on my knee and I have been a little hesitant of anything physical ever since. I had visions of slipping or breaking the sled or whatever. Watching them sled was enough at the time. It was cold and I figured one or two trips down the hill and we would go home. But I decided, I wanted to go down with her.

I sat down on the sled and put her between my legs, shoved off and down the hill we went.


Okay, so I can't tell you how much fun I had. No really. I haven't been on a sled for over 25 years. All though my childhood, sledding was a huge part of my life. Every winter we would drag out our sleds and a bunch of us neighborhood kids would race down hills together.

And in that simple moment with my daughter, going down the hill on a sled, I was young again.

There were no financial pressures, no terrorist bombings, no Sudan, no friend with Leukemia, no leading an organization trying to make budget, no aches and pains. I was on this hill behind my house in Toronto, Ohio, racing down the street. School was canceled the next day and I didn't have a care in the world.

After multiple trips down the hill, the snow started to turn to rain, and my wife said, "We better go home." I could have gone a thousand times more. I didn't want that night to ever end.

"Just one more time, please!"

And now, like a child, I sit in anticipation of my next snow day when I can skip school and play once again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I miss you

I miss you all and I miss blogging. If you don't know, I've been having trouble with my left hand (some variant of carpel tunnel) so I have not been typing as much. But as it heal, I'm getting ready to blog again. Assuming people still have me on their RSS feeds or stop in every now and then.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Genesis 2008

If the book of Genesis was a Facebook page.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"If you are a visitor with this week, this is NOT normal"

I leave for the weekend. Jim's in charge... everything is fine, right?

I text him Sunday afternoon and ask him how the worship times went... how did Saturday go?

Here is the email I get on my iphone:


last night was ok. only about 35 people though. the service seems to be shrinking. not sure why.

this morning was . . . uhmm . . . interesting. first service was fine.

second service we had a "minor disruption." i had to call the police.

seriously. probably a nice weekend to be gone and miss out on the "fun!"

talk to you soon,



Hummm... do I call him and find out what is going on? What do you think I did?

It's not a Central worship service until someone calls the police.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I'm sorry, I have no idea if this is for real.... but I just find it hilarious. For the whole story, go here

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Goodbye Fall

I always miss it when you go.

More on Flickr

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Anti Christ

Hey, this is from Ken Schenck. I said this during my Revelation series, but this guy says it MUCH better than me! (And he was my Greek professor in seminary, so he also says it with more authority as well.)

I have NO IDEA why I'm posting this, I just thought it was interesting.


The Anti-Christ

There's so much talk of Obama being the Antichrist, that I thought I might throw a couple posts that direction.

Some background:

First, this whole idea of an Antichrist comes directly from a set of pre-modern interpretations of several different passages ingeniously woven together in a pre-modern way. By pre-modern, I mean an unreflective reading that is unaware of the difference between how the text is being read and what the text originally meant.

The whole Darby-Hal Lindsey-Tim LaHaye end times scenario weaves together Scriptures from Daniel, Ezekiel, Mark 13/Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, 1 John, and Revelation ingeniously without

1. ... recognizing that these are different books addressing different situations that use words differently from each other and refer to different times...

2. ... or that these books to a large extent were not addressing today but their own times and situations. We want to leave open the door that some of their material might be addressing today. But our default expectation is that they were actually relevant to the people for whom they were actually written.

I want to reiterate my hermeneutic. To varying degrees, the NT generally does not read the OT in context. Paul can take the story of Sarah and Hagar and say that Sarah allegorically represents the Jerusalem above and Hagar the earthly Jerusalem--when this story is located some 800 years before Jerusalem even existed as an Israelite city. Matthew can see Jesus growing up in Nazareth as a prophetic triangulation of Scriptures like "Samson will be called a Nazirite" and "A branch [nazir] will come from the stump of Jesse."

In short, a Christian hermeneutic should probably allow for strange Spiritual "reader-response" variations like LaHaye. Maybe L & Friends are right and prophetically inspired. At the same time, what I want to point out in this post and a couple more is that 1) their interpretation is vastly unaware of what these texts originally meant and 2) their interpretation is not the long standing interpretation of Christendom. For my three-fold understanding of Christian hermeneutics, see this post.

The title "Antichrist"
This morning I want to start by pointing out that there is nowhere in the Bible where a figure is called the Antichrist. The word comes from 1 John (2:18, 22; 4:3). In 1 John, the term does not refer to a solitary figure who is coming at the end of time:

2:18: "Children, it is the last hour, and even as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come."

2:22: "Who is the liar if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son."

4:3: "And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus [is the Christ] is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, that you have heard is coming and is already now in the world."

The first rule of contextual (original meaning) interpretation is not to see more meaning in a verse than its original context requires. This distinguishes it from "theological interpretation" where one brings a Christian (reader-response) context to bear on the words beyond the original contexts. In this case, neither approach yields the Darbian interpretation.

So we should immediately recognize that 1 John has no teaching about a single figure in the end times who will set himself up in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem as God during a seven year tribulation. It is legitimate to ask whether the "you have heard" element of this passage maps to 2 Thessalonians 2's "man of lawlessness" or Revelation 13 and 17's "beast." But from the standpoint of contextual interpretation, we cannot just assume they are all the same figure.

So what do we notice about these passages in 1 John?

1. The likely antichrists of 1 John have to do with its situation, which we can sketch from comments scattered throughout this homily of sorts. The church in question has undergone a split in the late first century AD. A group of early Gnostics, probably Docetists (who believed Jesus only seemed to be human) have left the church. The references to antichrists more than likely refer directly to them, to people who have been dead for 1900 years.

2. The first reference, "antichrist is coming" does not have the word "the" in front, despite the as usual horribly inadequate NIV. "You have heard that antichrist is coming." The reference is not to one individual but to a type of individual, as the next sentence indicates, "Many antichrists have come."

3. Who is such an antichrist: "the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ." It would thus seem that there are a lot of antichrists in the world today. 1 John knows nothing, though, about a single Antichrist.

So ironically, the only place where the actual word "Antichrist" is used in the Bible has nothing to do with any solitary end times figure.

I might add in closing today as well that the "last hour" John is talking about was 1900 years ago. Of course a last hour can last 2000 years. In which case there have been many antichrists these last few minutes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Does this scare anyone else?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Not just in the US

I'm glad to know that other worlds are in this battle too.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Remember: "Paul for President!"

Last minute incentive!

Lydia just told me that she would be my running mate!

She will now type her name:


Remember, vote early, vote often!

Final Reminder

No matter who you vote for today... um...just go vote for me. Remember: Paul Risler for President!

Even if you have a lapse of judgement and vote for someone other than me... just go vote. I have installed a device on my blog that will not let you read it unless you vote. It will also call you "stupid!" when you go to my homepage. Just make sure your volume is turned up.

And for those who already voted, I thank you for your support.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Okay, this is funny.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

technology fast

Friends. I'm on a technology fast for 4 days (until Monday night). No blog, email, cell phone, facebook, twitter, gchat... nothing. So if you don't see me around virtually, it is because I'm only reachable in person. If you need to get a hold of me... maybe a letter? Walk over to my house? Call my wife? Carrier pigeon? The options are limited. Have a great week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Religious right...and left

I honestly get uncomfortable when either party claims Jesus. But there is a shift happening in religious/political landscape that is interesting. But just to remind you... wheather you are a McCain or Obama supporter, neither of them will bring in the Kingdom of God. No my friends, that is much your responsibility as anyone's.

Dueling church signs

Okay, this is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. I must say that, in my opinion, the Catholics won the sign duel: certainly in humor.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Donald Miller on Issues

Donald Miller is a Christian leader and author who is publicly campaigning for Obama throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. I got these quotes from another blog -- these are his thoughts about Obama on the issues of gay marriage and abortion. I thought it was interesting.

It is also interesting that he offered this quote about McCain: "I do wish he were a Christian, or would talk about faith, Jesus, Redemption or the Cross."

I have to say that quote hit me like ton of bricks. Interestingly enough, I'm not sure I have ever heard McCain claim to be a Christian? I mean, maybe he did... but come to think about it, I'm not sure I have ever heard him mention Jesus. It's interesting that I assumed he was. (And he may be).

I'm curious to know your thoughts.

BTW, for the record: even as a pastor, the first thing I look for in a president is NOT Christian faith. I would rather have an good president who is a non-christian than a bad one who is a devout. Feel free to comment on this as well.


Donald Miller on Abortion: "I am a pro-life voter, but do not believe John McCain’s plan on the issue will work. McCain’s only stand on the issue has been a recent switch to a pro-life position, and a promise to continue the attempt to criminalize abortion through the Supreme Court. I believe this is an empty promise, and anybody who understands our judicial system would know this. Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court (our most conservative Judge, many feel, and the pro-lifers greatest hope for the plan to criminalize abortion) has stated that Roe V. Wade “is the law of the land” and has been backed up in precedent by the Casey case. He does not believe it is plausible to overturn both rulings. Of course it is possible, but it would take a judicial miracle and the appointment of even more conservative, activist judges. This is the only way the overturning of Roe V. Wade will happen. The continuation of rhetoric about being pro-life but not having a realistic plan has tired me of the Republican Party. As more and more evangelicals walk away, I hope Republicans will stop giving lip-service to this important issue. My hope is they will realize they are going to lose more and more votes until they are willing to engage in a bipartisan effort to make progress with comprehensive legislation that is realistic and actual.

"The Democrats have proposed comprehensive legislation called the 95/10 initiative that aims to reduce the number of abortions that take place in this country by 95% within 10 years. While Barack Obama is a pro-choice candidate, he supports this and similar legislation. This is the only proposed and realistic strategy that can move us around the cultural impasse that is breathing hate and anger into the Christian community.

"While Barack Obama opposes late-term abortions, he has made promises to the National Organization or Women to make progress in a woman’s right to chose. I wish Obama were more strong on this issue. Still, I do feel he will accomplish more than John McCain, as John McCain has only recently taken this position and offers no legislation and no plan.

"This is a very debatable issue. There are facts on both sides that seem to refute any argument made. But I have had to do the research and take a position and, for now, this is my position."

Donald Miller on Gay Marriage: "This is not an issue I think much about because I am neither gay nor married, but I understand the evangelicals desire to protect the sanctity of marriage and define it as an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman. I agree with both candidates on this issue as they both oppose gay marriage but protect constitutional rights for domestic partners. In order to oppose civil rights for homosexuals, you would have to change the constitution which I think is dangerous. I agree with McCain and Obama both on this issue as they have stated the same position.

"On other issues that are no less important although less heated such as the economy, globalization and trade, the environment and energy, I support Barack Obama’s positions over John McCain’s."

Donald Miller on Faith: "But let me make something very clear. I don’t dislike John McCain. I think he is a good man and a drastic improvement over Republican candidates in the past. I do wish he were a Christian, or would talk about faith, Jesus, Redemption or the Cross. Barack Obama does, very often, and very unashamedly. I am uncomfortable with the idea of a truly secular man in the White House, a man who has no church, no pastor, does not read the Bible and may not even pray. John McCain seems like a good man, but a secular man. I want our next President to talk and listen to God."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stay at home dads and marriage


I have some opinions on this, but I'm going to give you all an opportunity to chime in if you want.

Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain Won

You may or may not think McCain won any of the debates. I feel that each debate simply reinforced the base of each candidate. But, I believe McCain won the "humor debate" hands down at the Al Smith dinner.

Each year, candidates do this kind of roast... kind of a tradition. Obama was okay. McCain was absolutely hilarious. You have to watch both parts... he actually gets funnier as it goes on. I have to say, this was really good. Really, this is well worth your time to watch.

Also, I will say his honoring Obama at the end showed real class. I was impressed.

And I LOVE the way he ended. Classic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Today... I predict that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

What are you trying to say?

This was the gchat status line of my administrative assistant last night.

Should I be expecting a call from OSHA?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are you for us or against us?

I am within seconds of perhaps the biggest rant I have ever done on this blog. But I have to pick up my daughter, so fortunately, I will show restraint. You are welcomed to rant for me.... or perhaps you think this prayer is good?

Must.... show... restraint....

Paul for President

If you haven't heard, I'm choosing my cabinet. I might unveil my folks the week before the election. Give me that last minute bump.

But I found some people I want on my team:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Real priorities

When I first started watching this, my initial thought was, "Okay, this really crosses the acceptable line of humor. It is in poor taste."

But it didn't take me long to catch that it is actually pretty profound if you think about it.

Gunman Kills 15 Potential Voters In Crucial Swing State

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I'm curious, how much the "pro-life" issue (meaning the legal availability of abortion) factors into your current leaning around who you will vote for in this election? Would that issue be the only issue for you (meaning, if you disagreed with someone's foreign policy, economic policy, tax policy, etc. but agreed with you on the issue of abortion, would that be the "swing" issue for you)? How should Christians view this issue between the two candidates?

I thought this was interesting.

How does this issue make you feel about Christians and the election process?

Okay, let me set some posting ground-rules:

1. Don't be a jerk. Speak about people as you would like to be spoken about.

2. Don't make absolute statements without using I language. ("I believe... " rather than... "you are a stupid jerk if you...")


Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'll take 2

Tee Hee

I've had conversations similar to this.

And now...

A word from our sponsor.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin's Giving

I posted the Tim Steven's blog below about Biden, Obama and McCain's annual giving. Palin's tax returns were released this week and the Palins' gave 3.3% of their income in 2006 and 1.5% in 2007 (an average of 2.4% for the two years). The average American family gives about 2% of their income to charitable organizations, the average Christian gives around 2.5% (Wow, we Christians are so generous!). Honestly, given Palin's overt Christianity, I am very surprised it was that low. I expect more out of our leaders.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice Presidential Debates

Well, what did you think? To be honest, I thought they both did a good job.


"Because we do not rest we lose our way... poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest our lives are in danger."

Wayne Muller

Interesting compairson

Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, I like politics. Especially the politics of a presidential election. I love the exchange of ideas, I love debate... and I love to talk with thinking people who may have strong opinions but are willing to "play" and allow themselves to be pushed. I have not done this with my Central friends (I don't believe that is appropriate given my position), but this blog is as close as I will allow myself.

Let the truth be known, I'm actually giddy about tonight's debate. I think both candidates will come in fully armed and it will be a good debate. Let's see how that goes. It is predicted to be the most-watched vice-presidential debate in history. Some are saying the most-watched debate period.

I found this on a website (taken from "Leadership Magazine.") I thought it was very interesting an and insightful and I wanted to share it with my blog friends. You are welcome to share your thoughts or just keep to yourself.


"You can listen to every stump speech and read every position paper, but nothing compares to evaluating presidential candidates side-by-side during a debate. Their contrasting styles and views emerge in ways you hadn't noticed during the long primary season. The candidates practice their lines and prepare their strategies, but the format allows for precious moments of spontaneity and even humor. The best candidates deftly address issues in ways that lodge them in the public consciousness.

Perhaps the best example of this is President Reagan, who in 1984 famously said, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." His 56-year-old opponent, Walter Mondale, could only look on in laughter.

The first debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama provided no such memorable moments. But it did highlight important distinctions between the Republican and Democratic candidates. Namely, McCain and Obama represent key differences between modern and postmodern cultures. Analyzing their debate through this lens reveals similarities to the church's own debates about how to respond to shifting cultures.

Obama spoke with empathy about the personal effects of the current financial crisis on Main Street America. He advocated greater oversight for Wall Street. McCain, too, said he wants oversight, but he emphasized different reasons for the crisis. He spoke of individual greed and said the government needs to hold the failed executives accountable. As the debate progressed, McCain spoke passionately about members of Congress who perpetuate the "evils of this earmarking and pork-barrel spending." McCain underscored personal morals where Obama accentuated communal values.

Obama consistently drew attention to points of agreement with McCain. He credited McCain for opposing President Bush on torture, for example. By contrast, McCain chided Obama for not understanding the issues and for displaying naïveté. He perpetuated the Right vs. Left dichotomy by describing Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate. While Obama sought to build consensus, McCain pointed out their differences.

The debate's most contentious moments came when Obama reiterated his intent to "meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing, if I think it's going to keep America safe." Despite taking a political beating for this view from Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama willingly contrasted himself with McCain:

But we are also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough, direct diplomacy with Iran, and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain. This notion--by not talking to people we are punishing them--has not worked. It has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in North Korea. In each instance, our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated their efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will change when I'm president of the United States.
"So let me get this right," McCain responded. "We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, 'We're going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,' and we say, 'No, you're not'? Oh, please."

McCain is a man of action and frank talk. Obama sees intrinsic value in engagement, which may even produce unexpected tangible consensus. You could plug in certain pastors and see the same differences.

Nationalism is a key reality of the modern world. But postmodernism prioritizes the global community. McCain hammered Obama for advocating precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, which McCain said would result in a host of horrendous consequences for America and the Middle East. He promised to seek American "victory and honor." Obama was more concerned about America's global reputation. Near the end of the debate, he shared a story about his Kenyan father writing letters so he could attend an American college. At the time, Obama said, America offered hope that hard work could pay off. "The ideals and the values of the United States inspired the entire world," Obama said. "I don't think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same."

In their exchanges, Obama called McCain by his first name, drawing attention to his personality. McCain never reciprocated, indicating respect for Obama's office but not necessarily for Obama himself. This difference highlighted Obama's preference to question McCain's judgment and prudence as McCain drew attention to his own experience and record. McCain even mocked intuition and President Bush when explaining his views on Russia.

"I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters, a 'K,' a 'G,' and a 'B,'" McCain said. "And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior."

Not everything in the debate can be framed as the difference between a modern and postmodern worldview. But like our church debates, a little awareness about perspective goes a long way toward understanding. The November election's results may help church leaders gauge the mood of their own constituencies. A tougher challenge is knowing when and how to confront those cultural assumptions for our own good and for the sake of the gospel."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Does this matter?

WARNING: the following post makes statements that may appear partisan. They are not to be construed as such, but rather simple observations of the political process. Quit trying to figure me out. I'm an equal opportunity offender.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart lies also."
Jesus of Nazareth

I read this a week or so ago, and (given my theology of giving) found this to be pretty disappointing. Does what one give have anything to do with how he or she would run a nation? Maybe, maybe not. But I found this very interesting.


"Last year, Joe Biden made $320,000 in income. And yet, how much did he give to charity? He gave a whopping $995...about 1/4 of 1%.

Maybe he had a bad year? Nope, it turns out that last year he gave more to charity than any of the past ten years. Joe Biden's total giving to charity over the past ten years adds up to $3,690. That is how much a tithing family making 1/3 his salary gives every four months.

Why does this matter? Can't you run the country without giving to charity?

Maybe, but for me, this is huge. Charitable giving speaks to your belief in people. It reflects your heart and whether you truly want to help people who are less fortunate. Lack of giving reveals a selfishness and self-sufficiency. It says, "Screw the world, they are on their own." As a politician, it speaks loudly that your confidence is in big government and not in the American people. And, for someone running for political office who knows his tax returns will be made public, it shows a lack of political astuteness at best (and sheer stupidity at worst) to not think this will make a difference.

I'm not saying Biden needs to be a Christian and give money to a Baptist church to be vice president. But couldn't he find any cause to believe in? Perhaps finding a cure for cancer, helping people with the AIDS epidemic or giving money to help unwed mothers. Surely there is some cause in the world worthy of his support? Nope.

Biden's spokesman, David Wade, says that he simply "doesn't have piles of money to give." Yeah, I feel bad for him. Only $320,000 last year. Imagine if that was the attitude of every American family. Hospitals would close. Churches would cease to exist. The Red Cross wouldn't be around to help during the next disaster.

How are the other candidates doing? Barack Obama wasn't doing much better until 2005 when he began running for president. Prior to that time, his charitable giving averaged 0.9%. Since he's been running for president, it increased to 4.7% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2006. Whatever his motive, I'm glad to see it increasing.

Governor Sarah Palin has not yet released her tax returns, but I'll be watching closely. John McCain gave more than 25% of his income in 2007 to charity. He and his wife believe so much in the concept of helping others that they set up the John and Cindy McCain Foundation to help manage their charitable giving. He didn't just start doing this recently. He has given ALL of his book royalties to charity since the first book deal in 1998 (more than $1.8 million given to charity in ten years). In 1991 (yes, 17 years ago), he opposed a pay raise that the Senate voted for themselves, so he gave that pay raise to charity that year, and every year since, adding up to more than $450,000.

This stuff matters. It's not the only issue on which I'll base my vote, but it is a very big issue. And right now, I'm pretty ticked off at Joe Biden and his lack of leadership and terrible modeling."

Source: Tim Stevens: Leading Smart

Character Formation

"You can't take an epidural shot to ease the pain of giving birth to character. In a sense, every day of your life is labor; the rhythmic agony of producing the person who will wake up in your body tomorrow, creating your reputation, continuing your legacy, and influencing your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and countless strangers, for better or worse."

Brian McLaren, "Finding our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Open Letter to People with Migraines

I'm sorry.

I never knew.

I'm a fairly compassionate guy. I'm empathetic by design.

I'm "intuitive" off the charts.

But honestly, when people with migraines told me they had a migraine headache, I mean...yea...I felt bad for them. But my primal reaction was, "Ah, suck it up. We've all get bad headaches. Take an Advil and get on with it."

Until today.

Today I had my first migraine.

Oh my Lord.

So, I'm honestly still a bit "fragile." I'm terrified of anything that might set this thing off (and I just looked up Migraines and I had a short one -- about 5 hours). But a few quick words:

1. To people, particularly my staff and friends, who put up with this on a regular basis, I'm so sorry. It really sucks. I hope I never find out what it is like to have this problem often. I hope and pray this is not a sign of things to come.

2. My apologies to my staff, who got the brunt of this as I was about to enter into a staff meeting (a rather important one at that) and then just lost it. Special thanks to Sue who drove me home and Jim who drove my car home. You all are the best.

3. I'm buying Betsy S. dinner to celebrate her thesis. I don't know what she is writing on exactly, but I think it has something to do with migraines. And maybe she is working to get rid of them. I LOVE you. May children everywhere rise up and call you blessed.

4. I'm sorry to Ian, who honestly, I love like a son... or at least a MUCH younger brother. He called me to ask where I was just before the staff meeting. I answered the phone and honestly was in so much pain that... well... um... I just thought really bad things about the idea of talking with you.

Let's see: I felt like someone took a sledge hammer to my head, I wanted to throw up, I was breaking in a sweat, I was stuck in traffic, behind a truck pumping out exhaust fumes, with 10,000 students crossing the road going between a long line of cars (waiting patiently for them to do so), with the sun blaring in my eyes, with construction equipment all around me rumbling and pounding -- and oh yea, my phone rings. There was almost anything else I would rather have been doing in that moment than being in that place talking on the phone.

In short, I'm sorry if you picked up on the fact that I wanted to kill you.

I really don't. I really do love you, brother.

5. To the makers of Advil. I am forever indebted to you. I will give you my first born, as right now she is yelling at the top of her lungs, "DADDY, WHERE ARE YOU?" Please come and take her now. And turn off the lights when you come in.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The interest of others

From a favorite blog of mine


Here's the quote of the day: "We're all worried about losing our jobs," Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, declared in an impassioned speech in support of the bill before the vote. "Most of us say, 'I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it — not me.' "

What else could you expect from an economic system predicated on the notion that everyone acting in their own self-interests will always lead to a win/win situation. Somehow, I wonder: WWJT. What would Jesus think?

He'd think that we should put the interests of others before our own. He'd think we should put the interests of the kingdom before our own. He'd think we should live generously. He'd think we should open our homes, share our food, and care for those who can't care for themselves, and that these kinds of things should be our priorities.

We've been trying to reconcile Adam Smith and unregulated economics with the gospel for a long time. Can we please stop? What's needed is a new model where the government rewards, not self-interest, but service and sacrifice. This might be an opportunity to build a new energy and technology infrastructure. Maybe America can begins producing goods again, rather than trying to live off fabricated wealth. Maybe, but I'm not sure. If Christians, who have the very words of Christ about money refuse to altar their view of self-interest economics, how will the rest of world do?


Feel free to share your thoughts.

Friday, September 26, 2008


WARNING: the following post makes statements that may appear partisan. They are not to be construed as such, but rather simple observations of the political process.

With that said, here is the headline on

McCain Decides to Participate in Debate

Well, duh.

I just want to say, I think Obama called his bluff and won.

They played "chicken" and McCain flinched first.

First, no matter what you think of McCain, I thought his "I'm not going to debate on Friday, I'm going to go and save the United States" was just plain arrogant. "Ooooo look, McCain hasn't showed up for months to vote, but now he will come riding in to save the day!"*

Really, get over yourself.

It was a political move and it backfired.

Obama's response was perfect [paraphrased]:

"Well, I'm going to be at the debate, even if I'm there alone. You know, alone. Yep. Just me and those TV cameras. And all those voters who want to hear a debate on issues. Yes sir, I will be there!"

Did anyone think that McCain would be able to pull this off?

So, now he has to back peddle.

"Oh, I guess the world will keep turning even without me for just this one night. I guess I can make the debates after all."

Come on. We expect better than that from you, Mr. McCain.

*I do realize Obama has been absent from the voting process as well. But he didn't pull this stunt, McCain did.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ARG! Again!

So tell me again.... seriously... when did it become socially acceptable to answer the phone, and, talking full voice, carry on a conversation IN A LIBRARY?

Seriously! What is up with this?

Did they change some standard of etiquette and not send me the memo? Am I really that out of touch?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


"At times the strength of spiritual comunity lies in the love of people who refrain from getting caught in the trap of trying to fix everything for us, who pray for us and allow us the pain of our wilderness, our wants, so that we may be more deeply grounded in God."

Rosemary Dougherty

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day off?

So I worked most of my day off. I could not turn my mind off. Yet I accomplished nothing that anyone will "see" in the next several months... it was all long-term stuff. Strategic, behind-the-scenes stuff. The stuff everyone assumes just happens.

Now, I'm smart enough to know that it's the long-term "important" work that often keeps an organization moving and healthy. There needs to be someone dreaming and planning. But when you have weekly "urgent" deadlines, sermons, budgets, appointments, stresses... yet all you do while working all day (on your day off) doesn't move you any closer to those "urgent" things... arg!

Most of my readers know by now that I LOVE my job. But just so you know... even people who love their jobs and feel called to do them have bad days. I feel a bit overwhelmed. Okay, maybe more than a bit. And although I know I will feel 100% better tomorrow, tonight I would trade this job for warm Diet Coke. It is definitely a Monday. (Funny, I dislike Mondays for a very different set of reasons than most people... but poor Monday always gets a bad rap.)

Of course, all this job stress will go away when I get elected president. Thankfully.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Best Magician, part 2

I've said in a previous post that I think David Copperfield is the best magician in the world.

I can't begin to tell you how hard this is to do.

No. Really.

Michael Phelps at an Exceedingly Young Age

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Running for President!

I didn't know this, but according to my friend Andrew there has been an underground swell of people who have decided that I should run for President!

Whoooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooo!

Free Air Force One flights for everyone!

Party in that big round room in that white building!

I would so rock as the Pres. Cause I'm so hip and relevant.

Check out the news here! and don't forget to vote!


Lean into life

"Balance is not a goal. Someone who is balanced is standing still. You don't want to be balanced, you need to be leaning. Lean into your marriage. Lean into your relationships. Lean into God."

Mark Beeson, Granger Community Church

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

FRESH Blog Meat!

Dear Blog Readers,

Meet Joel. Joel is one of my best friends, a fellow pastor and an all-around nice guy (I don't care what they all say). He's new to the blog thing, so if you would do me a favor and surf over to his blog. and just show him some lovin,' that would be great. I think you will like it if you do!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Open Letter to New People Coming to Central from Other Congregations

Dear New Person from another local congregation:

First, I want you to know that I'm excited you are considering being a part of the community of Central. I have often said (and I really believe), there is no place I would rather be, and no other people I would rather be with than this community you are "checking out." I'm certainly biased, but I love the people and vision that is Central Avenue. I think you will as well.

With that said, you need to know, up front, that I'm more than a bit nervous you are coming.

1. I've never been much of a fan of what we pastors call “the annual sheep shift."

Consumer Christians. Transfer growth.

Now, to be clear, not everyone who transfers from one local congregation to another, does so for the wrong reasons. I believe there are right reasons to change local churches (I may hit on some of those in a later post).

But there are also wrong reasons.

And that is what makes me nervous.

You know, we pastors actually talk to each other. And we notice that some people just shift from one congregation to the next -- looking for better music, better preaching, better children's programs, the next "better" thing. And if you are coming to Central just because we are “better” than your last congregation, I have some news for you: soon you will find another congregation in town “better” than us. So I would just as soon give you some names of those churches and have you keep looking.

2. If you are coming to Central simply to have your needs met and “consume religious services,” please don't come.

No. Really.

I’m not kidding.

We need the seats.

This is the Church, not a shopping mall.

And honestly, it MAY BE that the children’s program (or whatever) at your last church would have been better if you had volunteered or given of yourself to make it better. Our children’s program is good, not because we are a “better church” but because of Serena and Sarah and Mike and Barb and Mary Ann and Linda and ... (on and on... ).

The church is people.

More than that, the church is people willing to lay down their lives for one another. It’s not always convenient.

It's not always easy.

It's not always about you.

Sometimes you have to take some nails.

So here is my suggestion: hang around for a while. Let’s “date” a bit. Find out if you like who we are and what we are about.

But then discover your gifts, roll up your sleeves and get to work. We have a world to change.

To be clear, we all have times when we need to heal and rest. We have seasons where we feel we just can’t make a contribution. Maybe we are wounded. Maybe we are in a period of transition with our families. Maybe we need a safe place to ask questions. But those times are not the norm, and they should be temporary. And they should lead you to deeper service and relationships, not apathy.

So, if you are coming to Central just to consume, honestly, I would rather have your chair for a person who is either ready to make a contribution or just checking out Christianity. And that goes for any of you current Central folks as well. Play ball or get off the field.

I’m serious.

I would rather have 100 sold out “sacrificial followers of Jesus” than 1000 spectators who think we are “relevant” and love our music.

BTW, I “love” when people call us "relevant."

3. If you are coming to Central because you like my preaching... you are a very wise person. ☺

Okay seriously... just kidding.

I am honored when people tell me that my preaching impacts them. One of the times I’m most alive is when I preach. It is what I love.

But know that I’m not the ONLY voice you will hear. We have an ever-expanding, gifted team of teachers that I love (and learn from) at Central. God speaks through different voices – the key is a gifting to teach (which our teachers have). But don’t mistake style with substance.

And since this is my blog, let me just rant a bit (as if that would surprise any of my readers!).

I think there are too many expectations placed on most pastors. We are not the paid Christians to do all the work. We are called to “equip the saints for ministry.” (Which means, if you are not doing ministry... um... I guess you are not a saint. ☺)

People who know me well will tell you, I don’t do a lot around here. [“Amen!” from my staff]. That gives me time to focus on my sermon prep and those few things I do okay.

So before your put down your previous pastor’s preaching to me, know that I’m not a big fan of that. You don’t have to tell me I’m good by saying that another person is bad. And if you are saying that about that person now, what will you be saying about me in 3 years?

It may be your previous pastor’s preaching would have been better if the congregation didn’t place such unreasonable expectations on his or her time. Central has invested hundreds of hours in me -- and thousands of dollars. They have pushed me (yes, pushed me) to take sabbatical and study times. They’ve paid for me to go to conferences and given me money for books and resources. Yes, I believe I have a spiritual gift of teaching. But that gift has been nurtured and fanned by this community.

Please hear me: you are very welcomed here! Really. If you happen to be new and stumble on these posts, know that I’m not trying to talk you out of this community.

But know what you are getting into.

We are the Church. Not some club.

What makes Central attractive to you (or, as one of you said, “this place seems different!”) is this place... these people are different. There really is a hunger for God here. And hopefully an authenticity.

We are a people who don’t have it figured out (and aren’t afraid to say that) but we really do believe the Jesus Christ is the hope of the world and for some stupid reason he wants to us as channels of that hope.

So, we really only have 600 available seats (with 200 of them on a Saturday night) -- 450 were filled last weekend. We would love you to be a part of this body... but only if you are willing to BE a part of this body. We could use your gifts. Otherwise, we could use your chair.

Part 2 is coming soon... so don’t get ticked at me and quit reading.

But if this ticked you off... you probably wouldn't like Central anyway.


“I firmly believe that truth communicated with arrogance and hatred is no longer truth.”

So I read this quote. And initially I loved it. But then I asked myself, "Is it true?"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More is never enough

So I write this post with a little fear of potential comments. I don't want to take this into a discussion of the evils of the "institutional church" or "church growth." So please don't go there if you decide to comment. Fair?

So this weekend Central had a total of just over 450 people at our worship gatherings. A couple of things about this:

1. It is a record attendance for us. (It's about 50 over our previous high attendance which was on a special event Sunday years ago). But this is a lot of people for Central.

2. I am really not a numbers guy (other than the obvious truth that many anti-church-growth-people just can't escape --that numbers are people and people matter to God.) But I really don't put all my identity and value in "nickels and noses." You'll just have to trust me that I've worked this out with God and I'm pretty clear on this. I'm not into numbers for numbers' sake.

3. There was an excitement that was palatable in the conversation between the services. New families and people who just said to me, "Man, we hear that God is doing something here and we wanted to check it out." Which I found to be a strange comment: I agree... but I have always thought that the case. I LOVE this congregation. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. But it seems that several other people are picking up on this as well.

So here is the thing. Honesty time.

As I was driving home from our gatherings, I knew had a staff meeting in the evening, so I called my administrator and asked for the attendance numbers. She added them up and told me, "452."

My first thought: "Wow, that is really great. That is a new high attendance for us. That's exciting."

HONESTLY, my immediate second thought: "Man, I wonder if we could break 500?"

Now, let me put this out there: I think it's okay for a congregation to grow. I think it's even okay for a pastor to WANT a congregation to grow (for the right reasons). I will even go out on the edge and say that I think setting numerical goals can be okay (not in that you are trying to reach them, but in setting them you begin to think about what is beyond yourself.)

But what bothered me about this incident was that I was not satisfied.

More was not enough.

And I know my personality type. It will never be enough.

There is an addiction that comes with "success." I'm so thankful for what God is doing at Central. And not just the numerical growth. I love the stories of life-change. I love the community that is being formed. I just love being a part of this congregation.

But I never want to be at this place in my life where God is working and I can't enjoy it because I'm thinking of the next thing. And this is how I'm wired. And honestly, sometimes it just bugs me.

This was a vulnerable post for me to write. Be kind. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Um... well... ah... restraint, part two

For those of you who enjoyed my previous musical contribution and just can't get enough, here is another.

For those of you who didn't, don't watch this. No, really. You really don't want to click on that arrow.

Noooooo! too late! You are going to, aren't you?

I warned you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I feel a rant coming on. But I don't have time to rant. But this is... er... mppp.... [ restraint!]... one of the reasons.... [holds back rant]


A moment for the history books

Although I'm sure there will be constant mud-slinging even after the election is over, this recent discovery about Barack Obama by ABC TV news anchor, Terry Morgan is going to cause a lot of discussion and controversy.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No Fruit?

This was a day of a lot of effort expended and yet little work accomplished. The week in and week out task of preaching means that you give birth on Sunday only to find you are pregnant again on Monday. "Labor" is a common analogy used by those of us who preach (yes, even the women). It was one of those days when I sit in front of a screen and type a lot of words but never really get anywhere. It was really, really frustrating. I hate when I'm not productive.

And yet...

Today, I also worked with some good friends at a food pantry. A very pleasant surprise, as I wasn't expecting any of them to come and they are some of the people I enjoy hanging out with the most. (4x4=16 peaches).

I talked with a fellow pastor about a dream I have for ministry and plan to call him again in about 25 minutes to ask him more. He is doing what I want to do. I am betting I can learn a lot from him.

I picked up my daughter from pre-school. Her eyes lit up and she ran to me yelling at the top of her lungs, "Daddy!!!!!"

I pushed her little body on the swing for what seemed like forever but went by in seconds as I realized that the day will come when she won't want me to push her. But I was aware of every push. The feel of my hand on her body. The look of the wind blowing her hair. Her 4-year-old smile and laugh. The rhythm of her shadow playing on the grass.

I made her dinner.

I played with Play-Doh.

I tucked her in and read her a story.

We prayed and talked about God.

She asked me to snuggle her and she fell asleep in my arms. Her last words were, "I love you daddy."

All in all... a pretty productive day.

I am blessed.

The meaning of life


Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness Of Life

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

2 Cor. 12:7-10


I grew up as a magician, doing magic shows before very large crowds from a pretty young age. I loved being in front of people. I loved to "perform." I loved figuring out the timing of making people laugh. My dad and I would critique each show, often as we drove to the next one. In the car, we would methodically walk through the show and hone each routine from the opening words to the closing ones. We would add jokes (even "ad libs" that weren't ad lib). We would craft the "patter" of each effect.

Occasionally we would be doing a show and I would get nervous. My dad's advice? "Fake it until you make it." He really was of the school, "Don't tell them you are nervous and they will never know. But if you tell them, it will make you seem less professional and you will be all the more nervous."

Now, it's funny; I don't remember having "stage fright" all that much growing up. I spoke in front of hundreds of people at a time, and never really gave it much thought.

That was then.

When I did magic shows.

And it worked.

Now, to be clear, I think much of my life has been to prepare me for what I do now. I've been speaking in public as a magician since the age of 5. I spent hours upon hours a week learning how to engage an audience and craft a routine. I did four years of drama while in High School, acting in plays and musicals. I did several years on the debate team. In college I was a speech communication major. There is no doubt that I have been trained as a speaker (often I think I should be MUCH better at this than I am!).

Then I became a pastor.

And something happened.

While I was in seminary, I was a youth pastor in this small church. This church hired me... and to say I was "green" would be an incredible understatement. I had this little youth group. And I did the best I could do at being their pastor -- knowing absolutely nothing about being a youth pastor.

I remember I did this bible study. It was on forgiveness. And as I was speaking, I felt this strange sense that something "bigger than me" was going on. I have no other words than that -- but the strange mix of confidence and heaviness was overwhelming.

What surprised me is that I would teach on something... and dang it... the students would go and do it. They would forgive people who hurt them. They would reach out to people they wouldn't normally have reached out to. They would share their faith with their friends.

It was weird.

Sometimes their parents would call me and ask me what happened to their child.

I will never forget the first time I spoke before a church. (Sermon title: "If I am a part of the body of Christ, than why do I feel like a toe?") It was this very odd mix of incredible excitement -- and nothing short of terror. I wasn't expecting that.


I've been doing this "preaching" thing for 17 years now. And the excitement... and the terror... have never gone away. I get sick before almost every time I speak. I'm a mess the day before. Moments before I walk on the platform, most of the time it would not take much to talk me out of it. I can't describe it. But I don't like it.

And yet, at the same time, while I'm teaching, I feel most alive.

There is an old movie called, "Chariots of Fire." In it, Eric Liddell (who is a runner), says something like, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God's pleasure."

When I teach, I feel God's pleasure.


I'm writing this because after taking 4 weeks off from preaching, I started again this past Sunday. I felt like I hit a brick wall. I felt like I got ran over by a train. I took a 4-hour-nap afterward and, really, would have slept through most of Monday and most of today if I didn't have a job to do. Fortunately, it usually gets easier in a few weeks. My body gets back into a groove.

But until then...I don't like it.

I'm not complaining. I'm so thankful to God that He distributes spiritual gifts to his Church. And I'm actually pretty thankful that I have a fairly good sense of my gifts. But gifts come at a cost. The giver of the gifts paid a price... and there is a "price" that is paid whenever we are broken open and poured out. There really is a difference between a gift and a talent. And maybe this is part of the difference.

So, do others of you struggle with this? In what areas? And if not.. I wonder why not?

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

God's power made perfect in weakness.

Power made perfect in weakness.

Power... perfect... weak.

Power. Weak.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Did I really just nap for 4 hours?

ahhhh.... Sunday afternoon. Love it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


“We must be perfectly clear about one thing: Jesus never expected us to simply turn the other cheek, go the second mile, bless those who persecute us, give unto them who ask, and so forth. These responses, generally and rightly understood to be characteristics of Christ-likeness, were set forth by Jesus as illustrative of what might be expected of a new kind of person—one who intelligently and steadfastly seeks, above all else, to live within the rule of God and be possessed by the kind of righteousness that God himself has.”

Dallas Willard, "The Spirit of the Disciplines."

Wow. I hope someday I can write something that profound.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Note to self

A 20-hour work day is a bit excessive.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

So when...

When did it become socially acceptable behavior, IN A LIBRARY, to answer your cell phone (turn the @#$% ringer off!) and then talk at FULL VOICE FOR 7 MINUTES about anything you want to talk about?

People! There is a volume button, a vibrate feature AND a hallway! Learn to use any of those.


Okay, I feel better. Sorry for the rant.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin

I can see why many Republicans are excited about Palin. Good speech. Okay, it was a pretty great speech... even if you disagree with the McCain/Palin vision. I realize that the best candidate for president is not necessarily the best public speaker, but as someone who is "kind of into the whole speaking thing"... this has been an amazing election.

Do realize that we have seen, (according to many), some of the best public speakers in the history of this nation. (Obama, Huckabee, Palin... all are excellent). It really has been great year for speeches. Without watching commentary... I think a star is born. It really was an amazing speech.

Curious for those of you who watched it... what did you think?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Christmas is just around the corner

Buy one for you pastor and you will be blessed.

Come to think of it... hummm... staff Christmas gifts!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It didn't rain

Just want to point out that skies were clear in Denver.

You know, no matter where you are politically, as a person who studies public speaking recreationally... I must say that was one amazing speech.

Monday, August 25, 2008


You have GOT to be kidding.

No really.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Bank account a bit low.

I noticed that Central's bank account seemed a bit low this month. BTW, has anyone seen my new iphone? :)

I've had days like this...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The one

I find this a very interesting ad on multiple levels. Anyone want to guess why?


"Honesty" is a series of short films that take place in a world where everyone says exactly what they think.

I've done a lot of funerals in my day and this never happens:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mindset list for 2008

This list always makes me feel really old. Incoming students this year were born in 1990. Wow. You will appreciate the power of that "wow" when you hit 40.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saddleback Civil Forums - "Warren Debates"

So I just finished watching the Warren interviews with McCain and Obama. Because of my role as a pastor of a diverse congregation --Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green, whatever -- I will probably never come out and tell people who I'm voting for... so please don't ask. I believe this is a position somewhat unique to me as a pastor, and not to most people. So therefore, I'm going to ask you questions that I am unwilling to answer. It may not seem fair, but well, life's not fair. :)

I'm curious, those of you who watched the program, what did you think? How do you think the candidates did? How do you think Warren did as a moderator (and as a Christian leader)? I will say, I'm honestly surprised that I felt Warren was biased (You can tell me which way YOU think he was biased). This is especially surprising to me given what I understood Warren's political stance to be. Maybe I was wrong. So tell me your thoughts.

Finally (if you are willing) if the election was tomorrow, who would you vote for and why?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And by the way...

An update on the end times.

There will be an upcoming sermon by end times prophet RW to explain why his prophesied end times event hasn't happened yet.


Well it's about time!

Here is an interesting new product that is bound to be a hit among a certain crowd: a baby shampoo guaranteed to make the baby cry. This way, that a child will learn early on about the hopeless, hellish existence that is the human experience.

From the um... er...Press Release of the product.

"After rigorous product testing at the company's research headquarters in New Jersey, the new 'Nothing But Tears' shampoo was found to give newborns up to three times greater resilience than the leading competitor, as well as a stronger grasp on the crushing disappointment that is life. In addition, when combined with Johnson & Johnson's new line of bleach-based conditioners, the shampoo resulted in noticeably thicker skin after only six uses.

In recent years, a growing number of parents have begun looking for ways to raise more adequately jaded toddlers, and Johnson & Johnson is not the first company to respond to the rising demand. In 2003, Fisher-Price unveiled a new adventure play set containing 85 easy-to-choke-on pieces, and in 2006, the Walt Disney Company introduced an interactive DVD entitled 'Baby's First Brush With A Cruel And Unforgiving World.'"

Thursday, August 14, 2008


As a leader who uses this image of the big picture... flying at 10,000 feet... I really like this.

[New Link] Pray for...

Okay, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum, I'm curious to know what you think of this:

Do you think this honors God?

Do you really think that God is on the side of one political candidate because of a single issue?

Now, I'm not sure you can talk about Jesus and not be "political," but as a pastor, I strive to be non-partisan -- in that I'm an equal-opportunity offender.

But as a blogger, I just going to say this: This sickens me beyond belief.

Now, feel free to disagree. We can still be friends. Really.

But I think this is arrogant, manipulative... I could go on but I'm going to show restraint. To be clear, I'm pro life. I think abortion is a big issue... and Christians need to wrestle with it. (Of course, we also need to wrestle with the place of law in changing the human heart, and why most pro-life people are only pro-life for unborn babies, but that is a different post.) Okay, I'm not going to rant.

I WILL say that some friends of mine (and fellow Centralites) just gave me one of the great moments in blogging history. Surf on over and check out their response to this clip.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Money well spent?

Number of people in China: 1.3 billion
Number of Chinese estimated to be below poverty level: 100 - 300 million
Annual income at poverty level: $94
Amount spent on 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremy: $300 million
Amount spent on 2004 Summer Olympics Opening: $40 million

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The "Warren Debates"

I find this interesting on a number of levels; the first being that the candidates actually are doing it. I like Warren. And I think he did a good job with this interview (although he dodged some questions, I'm not sure I would have not tried to do the same thing).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are there gender differences?

Hey, if you got a second, hop on over to my friend KT's blog and take a gander. I would like to know what my readers think. Feel free to comment on her blog, or you can comment on mine...

For Kevin

On the streets of Victoria, BC.

And yes, he was playing his own theme song.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I follow...

Note from author: Upon re-reading this post, I'm struck with how poorly it is written. If poor writing offends you, please stop reading. Thanks.

So I was reading 1 Corinthians chapter 3 this morning and a new question hit me. (Don't you love it when you are reading something you have read a couple of dozen times and something new pops out at you?)

Now, be prepared, this is not profound. It's embarrassingly obvious. I'm sure that most of you have seen this in this passage before (this really IS a job for "Captain Obvious!")... but in all honestly, I don't think I have thought of this much before (although I have a similar note written in my bible, so it is not a new thought, but it hit me harder this morning).

Question: Who do you follow?

What identity do you get from being associated that person? What is their role in your life?

This all came from chapter 3:21: "No more boasting about people! All things are yours..."

My job being what it is, I get a lot of people who want to meet with me. Most of the time, they really don't need theological insight or seminary level training.... they really need someone to listen, reflect back to them, and challenge them to come up with options. And, I believe this is certainly less so at Central than some other congregations, but there is something about meeting with "the pastor" that just makes people feel important.

I had two separate conversations last week about campus ministries, one with a student and another with a former student. They were saying how there is an obvious pecking order in campus ministries. It is a big deal who you are being "discipled by" in terms of their "rank" in the ministry. "Wow, I'm being discipled by ___________ -- the ministry leader!"

And what this passage as a whole is saying is, "Rubbish!" (And for those of you who know Greek, or have heard me teach on that word, you know what I'm saying.)

This passage is saying that this is very destructive and produces division in the church.

And division is, according to scripture... very, very, very bad.

(A quick aside: in most churches, if you describe someone as "worldly," what does that mean? If you read this chapter, how does Paul define someone who is "worldly and immature?")

Paul says that the important thing is not a relationship with (seemingly) powerful people, but a connection with Christ. That in Christ, we have all the identity we need.

Now, this does not mean we don't need pastors, ministry leaders, etc (at least I hope this is not what this means). And it does not mean that those people are not due certain honor or hearing because of their position (this concept is also biblical and is often overlooked in our attempt to be against the "institutional church" -- whatever the rubbish that is..). But it does mean that I should not get my identity simply because I'm associated with a certain person.

Wow. I do that. If you peel back my public life and peer into my darkness, I sometimes struggle with this very thing. Mind you, I'm MUCH better at this now than 10 years ago. In my better moments, I'm even above this... repelled by this. But isn't this a temptation for us? To get identity from our association with others? Our standing?

There is more to this... but I want to know if this hits a nerve... so I will stop here for now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm back

Well, we are back from our cruise. It was fun, restful... and a great way to celebrate an anniversary. And yes, Alaska is as beautiful as you imagine.

I'm posting pictures over on my Flickr account. I don't have internet at home for some reason, so I'm doing it when I get a bit of time during the day. They will unfold over the coming week or so.

I have a lot I would like to blog about this trip. I'm hoping when my internet gets fixed, I can do that. I will simply start by saying this: I'm glad my life is such that when I'm on vacation, on a cruise ship, touring Alaska, I can honestly say at the end of the trip, "Yea, this was wonderful, but I miss my life back home." I have a great family, job, friends, church...

All in all, I'm feeling pretty blessed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My heart will go on...

I will be gone for a week. Think of me when you watch the Titanic (I'm sure this is on everyone's agenda for the week). Laura and I are celebrating our 15 year anniversary with a cruise to Alaska. Rest. Hopefully lots of wildlife. Should be a good time.

Enjoy your week and hope to see you all soon.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Worship Music

I hope I'm not violating confidence, but these are two actual letters written from individuals complaining about song selection and music.

One letter said:

"I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn - if you can call it that - sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this - in God's house! - don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need."

Another letter said:

"What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday's was particularly unnerving. The tune was un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting."

By the way, the first letter was written in 1863 and the song they were concerned about was the hymn, "Just As I Am". The second letter was written in 1890 and about the hymn, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".

It's a good thing people stopped complaining about music.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My new preaching style

I've been thinking that my preaching has been a little dull lately [insert smart comments].

I need a new style.

Something with flash.

Something that will hold people's attention.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Okay, I gave her all day to post this....

Thanks to Mdog who sent me this earlier today. I'm at home, really sick, and I must have watched this 10 times. It just really makes me happy. And I LOVE the song. There really is so much I like about this video... but to analyze it on this post would be like describing humor ("You see, it's funny because...")

Just turn up the volume on your speakers...and dance.

FYI - Lose translation of the words

"Stream of Life"

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day

runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth

in numberless blades of grass

and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth

and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two of my favorites

Two of my favorite people... for very different reasons.

Kids' Rock

After listening to VBS songs over and over for the last two weeks ("Choose Jesus, choose to believe!") and being the dad of a 3-year-old ("Daddy, would you play the 'Choose Jesus' song again?), I'm thinking this might sell.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bucket List

I almost didn't rent this movie because the reviews have been mixed. That would have been too bad. I absolutely loved it. There is are two moments that go by pretty quickly but, in my opinion, are worth the entire movie.

I really enjoyed this movie.


Day 8

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The winner

The winner of the Willow Creek Arts Conference Video Competition. :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Homesick Already

I'm leaving for a week-- first to Annual Conference then to Chicago for the Willow Arts Conference. Where I'm really looking forward to the week ahead, I'm a bit sad about leaving. My wife and I have had a great week together. I didn't preach this week... so I'm feeling really rested. And last night, when I explained to my daughter about me being gone for a week ("I will be gone, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday..."etc.) she looked at me and said, "Well, I'll really miss you, Daddy. Does that mean we won't have breakfast together on Saturday?"

[insert sound of my heart breaking]

To my blog readers who are local... feel free to check in on my wife. You might want to cook for her... popcorn is her staple when I'm gone. :)

See you all when I get back.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Desire Satisfied

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists...if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "Heaven" ridiculous by saying they do not want "to spend eternity playing harps." The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.

All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible... People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.


C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman was a huge influence in my early days as a Christian. I loved (and still love) his music, but I think I was more impacted by his apparent integrity, humility, honesty, and love for God and people. Steven and Mary Beth are also a big promoters of adoption, having formed an organization called Shaohannah’s Hope to aid families who want to adopt but can't afford it.

Their youngest child (Maria) died Wednesday evening after being accidently struck by their car in the driveway. The driver, was one of their other sons.

I can't imagine losing a child. Counseling people tell me that death of a child is the worst grief; worse than losing a spouse, or sibling or parent. Many couples who lose a child to death, their marriages don't survive or are permanently damaged.

But I really can't imagine how difficult this situation must be on a family. Even though this appears to be an accident, the feeling of guilt and blame and regret would be overwhelming. The feelings of guilt of the son. The resentment and anger that might be felt by the parents. The questions.

Only God.

Only God can heal stuff like this. And you know, in this life, we all know people who never recover... even after giving it to God. But if you have a moment, please pray for this family. My prayer is that in the midst of this they will experience healing, grace, forgiveness and the strong presence of the One who makes all things new.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"