Saturday, March 29, 2008

History belongs to...

Who does history belong to? The successful? The powerful? The wealthy? The media elite? The superstars?

Well, according to NT scholar, Walter Wink, history belongs to the intercessors.

For those of you staying up late tonight, not able to sleep, just waiting for the next installment of my series in the book of Revelation... well... this is your sneak peak! For those of you who were at the Saturday night service, this is review. For those of you who don't care... why are you reading this again? :)

I talk about this in my message. Wink writes:

"History belongs to the intercessors, to those who believe and pray the future into being. History does not belong to the powerful or the wealthy or the rulers or the armies or the corporations or the global media empires. It doesn’t belong to Rome. It doesn’t to Bill Gates. History belongs to the intercessors, to those who believe and pray the future into being.”

Do you believe that?

The undeniable teaching of scripture is that prayer changes things. Sure, there is debate over sovereignty, and what happens in prayer... yada yada yada yawn. But scripture suggests that our prayers do make a difference.

And I often wonder if I really believe that.

Because if I really believed that, I think I would pray more.

I often wonder how much we blame God for not working when really we are not praying. Certainly, there are times when God's answer is "no" (or "later"). But seriously... I have run into people who have come to me asking why God didn't do this or that or direct this or that, etc... and they ask, "Why didn't God answer my prayer?"

But after talking to them for a while, I find that they really didn't pray.

They may have worried.

They may have stewed.

They may have stressed.

They may have thought about the issue a lot.

But they didn't pray. Just pray. Continuously. Hard. Persistently

I wonder how many of my unanswered prayers are because... well... I didn't pray them.

So... I want to pray more. Yep, I'm a pastor and posting this on a public blog. But prayer is hard. Really hard. And I want to do it more. And if you want to join me....maybe we can talk about this.

Any struggles with prayer you want to share?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter... I mean... "Ressurection Sunday!"

A friend and fellow blogger made a post I found really intriguing. You can read her thoughts here. She was talking about her joy in the hiding eggs... the "trappings" of Easter and Christmas... and she asked: "I'd honestly be interested in knowing if any of you guys have a problem with these sort of former-pagan observances."

And so I left a comment.

Going back to see if others had commented yet, I was surprised how passionate my response was to her post. (And how long!). And that sent up a flag that said, "Hey, this may be important to you."

So I'm posting my response to her question on my blog, because it gives insight into me and hey, this is my blog. I can do what I want.

Jen is one of my regular reads. She is a good egg. (Even when she is hiding them.) You should go to her blog and chime in.

Question: "I'd honestly be interested in knowing if any of you guys have a problem with these sort of former-pagan observances."

My Answer:

I would leave a comment, but I'm too busy hiding eggs.

Maybe I'm too flippant here... I've been accused of that before... but I don't think the fact that I'm hiding eggs and having my 3-year-old daughter find them is all that big of a deal to God. I mean seriously... there are some big problems in this world. I'm guessing that is not one of them. It's not like we are chanting to the gods and goddesses while we are doing it. And we can't have any more kids, so the fertility thing isn't an issue anymore for Laura and me. :)

And once Lydia finds her eggs... and when she comes out of her chocolate coma... that night, I will hold her in my arms as I put her to bed...and I will lay my hands on her head as I do every night I tuck her in... and we will pray. She will list off all the people she is thankful for (it takes a while, so I bring an iced tea into the room) and then she will pray the Lord's prayer (which is the cutest thing and must make God smile)...

And I will pray that she will come to know God at an early age. That she would be a girl who is sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in her life... that she would have favor with people and be a champion of the outcast. I will pray that she loves God and loves people with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. Often in tears, I will thank God for this amazing, frustrating, tiring, exhilarating, holy thing that I hold in my arms.

Then, I will look her straight in the eye and tell her that I love her and that I'm so proud to be her daddy. I will tell her that there is nothing she could ever do that will make God love her less. And then I will put her in bed, kiss her goodnight...

And then Laura and I will find the rest of the eggs. :)

That is VERY long way of saying: I think -- in the church -- if we are not careful we can major on the minors. We can DO everything right: and have this great appearance of righteousness on the outside ["I don't sing, dance, cuss, I don't play cards, I don't enjoy Halloween (demons), Christmas (that damn Santa), or Easter (has been taken over my the Easter Bunny!)" -- and miss that there is this amazing God who longs to give us life. The Most Joyful Being in the Universe wants to have my daughter chuckle with glee and yell, "Daddy! I found one!"

And I'm just not sure that her looking for eggs or bitting the head off a chocolate bunny (why do we go for the ears first?) is going to ruin the work of God in her life. In fact, God might even use it.

But then again, what do I know. And I could very well be wrong.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Empty Tomb

This is from a seminary professor of mine.


"I'll believe Jesus rose from the dead," said the angry Communist, " when the atheist leader of the Soviet Union becomes a Christian." These remarks, of course were typical during the years of the Soviet Empire and the Iron Curtain. Teenagers in America today hardly realize what a remarkable change has happened in Russia since the early 90s. Indeed it is nothing short of miraculous, and I have had the privilege of observing this first hand while teaching from time to time in Moscow.

And now comes this story about which I can only rejoice. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Premier of the Soviet Union and the man whom President Ronald Reagan implored "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" when he was in Berlin is now openly testifying that he is a Christian. Below you will find the link to the story in the British Paper the Telegraph.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the influence of St. Francis of Assisi and his writings on Gorbachev in this whole process.

The Lord is by no means finished with us all yet, and the rise and flourishing of Christianity once more in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc countries is a clear sign of the moving of the Holy Spirit.

The last time I was in Moscow there was a huge Christian rally at the downtown convention center which once held the large Communist rallies. Instead, there was a charismatic worship service, complete with American and British praise songs now being sung in Russian--- 'Slava Boga' (Russian for 'Praise the Lord'). There were hundreds and hundreds of young people singing at the top of their lungs. Only the coldest of Christians hearts would not be moved to tears by such a sight. Some day the day may come when Russia becomes a more Christian nation than the U.S. of A. for the Spirit moves where it will. In the meanwhile, I am thankful for all the signs of Christianity rising from the ashes in Russia even now. It must have something to do with that empty tomb in Jerusalem and the one who vacated it :)

Happy Easter

worthless idols

Jonah 2:6-8 (New International Version)

6 "To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs."


"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feeling Better

Thanks to all of you who have emailed me asking about Lydia. She is much better. One of her little friends (okay, the mom of one of her little friends) gave her this stuffed kitten ("Sally") and for the past couple of days she has been at Lydia's side constantly. But now Sally is "sick" and Lydia is taking care of her. Kisses from a 3-year-old make everyone feel better.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The story of stuff

This video is a bit long, but I think this may be worth your time. I would be curious to know your thoughts as well. I would especially like to hear if you disagree with what was said and why?

The story of stuff


All my years in Advertising didn't go to waste. Now I can do both!

Do You Ever Wonder What Grocery Store Employees Do at Night?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Most of my life I have spent longing for something more. Even recently, while driving around Columbus on I 70, I was reminded that there is this deep longing in me -- this ache inside of me -- that wants to be fixed. That wants something more. That sees my condition and doesn't like it.

I'm not alone.

"All creation groans" waiting to be redeemed.

Trees, rocks, bugs, animals... and every human being ever created, whether we acknowledge it or not... deep inside... we know that something is wrong.

Some things we can put our finger on... other longing we have not even been given eyes to see.

I want to be fixed. I want something more.

I'm not alone.

You are not alone.

And this is the gospel.

A friend wrote some of the most profound words about this I have ever read. You need to read them. They are raw, they are fresh, they are hard, they are filled with struggle and life and despair and hope.

I join her in the hope that "someday it will be different."

One more note: I always want to be a part of a church that understands this struggle as a sign of maturity. How I long for the church to be a place where people can be as real about their struggles as their hope. This is a sign to me that God really is at work in a community and a life. May it be so.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Okay, I lied

I know I said I was done with this guy but I really can't pass this one up. Sarah, you have to hold out until the end... as he gives sanctified nutritional advice in the midst of his diatribe against "liberal churches."

Serena and Maria... NO.

Don't even go there...

I'm not doing it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So our family has been struggling with some kind of illness for the past couple of weeks. First Lydia, then Laura and me. Not sure that any of this is actually related... but when we awoke this morning to this. Wow.

She is still in good spirits, but man, as a parent, you really worry about this stuff.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My back yard is beautiful

I was going to take a picture of it, but you know, sometimes a camera just can't cut it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

"The Envelope Please..."

Well, it turns out that Paul is a liberal.

Okay, a "progressive."

I scored a 66 one time and a 68 another (After reflection, I changed my answer to a question). It seems that Andrew wins the lunch. For the record, I really wanted to give it to SJW because her husband is a good kisser AND she was the first one gutsy enough to guess my score-- and was pretty darn close. But she did give a range, which felt like a copout... and Andrew guessed right between my two scores. So Andrew it is. (But I will invite SJW, her husband and daughter over for dinner as a constellation prize when we all stop being sick. And Beth gets honorable mention for the line, "I smell chicken." She ought to get something for that!)

I was honestly surprised about falling in the "progressive" camp. I'm still not sure I would define myself that way, or, that if held up to a someone who claims to be progressive, I wouldn't appear like a conservative. I guess it is all relative. Looking at the questions, there is a REALLY big difference between someone who scores a 68 verses a 90. Huge. But I did score higher than a couple of my colleagues who I thought much more liberal than me... which I found interesting.

This has been my story for a couple of years now. I often feel like a man without a theological home. The conservatives don't want me because I'm too liberal. And the liberals don't want me because I'm too conservative. I find myself standing with people in both camps, and sometimes repulsed by both camps. And to be honest, I often feel isolated among my colleagues who fit in these nice, neat little boxes.

On top of that, for some reason anymore, I really resent being labeled. I don't like to be put in boxes.

I spoke at an event in the fall, and when I went to register, I told them I was one of the speakers. They said, "Okay, are you conservative or liberal?" And I said... "yes."

[long pause]

[strange look]

[awkward pause as she waits for me to say more]

I mean, it does depend on what you are asking, right? I'm liberal in my use of chocolate, pizza toppings and love for my wife. I'm conservative in my use of mayo, my dress and anything having to do with Yanni. We actually got into a little fight because I refused to be put into a box so that they could put me into a discussion group.

But as much as I don't like to be labeled, I honestly think I have a particular fear of being labeled "liberal." Largely because all my life I have been taught that "liberal" is a theological cuss word.

Theological Liberals don't love or believe in Jesus.

Liberals don't believe in the bible. Liberals are "them."

But... see, here is the thing: I DO love Jesus and I DO believe in the bible... maybe more now than ever. I think I have a MUCH higher reverence for the bible than many of my more conservative colleagues. I just don't use the same words to describe it as I used to use.

My journey since seminary has been trying to reconcile what I read in the bible with...well...uh... what I read in the bible. I mean, we are all okay with reading James. Phillipians makes us generally feel really good. But then there are those tricky things. The "problem passages."

As Scot said, I'm fascinated "with the portions of the Bible we don't tend to read, passages like the story of Jephthah. Or how God was on the verge of killing Moses for not circumcising his son, and his wife stepped in, did what needed to be done, and tossed the foreskin at Moses' feet, and God let him alone."

"I have become fascinated with what goes on in our heads and our minds and our traditions (and the latter is far more significant than many of us recognize) in making decisions like this. What decisions? Which passages not to read as normative. The passages we tend not to read at all."

For the record, I still don't think I'm in the "theological liberal" camp. I know theological liberals, and I'm not one of them. I feel very comfortable in the moderate camp. In fact, in many ways I'm still a theological conservative.

But why does the Bride of Jesus Christ have so much fear? Why are we so afraid of having the wrong answers? And does this fear say something more about our faith, than which theological box we are stuffed into?


I am thinking of going through some of the questions and talking about why I answered the way I did. If I get enough encouragement, I may do that. But I think I have said what I wanted to say.