Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seeing Gray

This is an interesting way for a pastor to get feedback on certain subjects as a part of a sermon series. Watch the video for details.

While I don't know what direction he'll take this, it is an unique approach.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Come! Join The Club!

I recently heard someone commenting that the church has a tendency to list the requirements of its membership but never give its members benefits.


What I heard was "the church should be a place where the perks should be highlighted and the requirements should be lessened." What do people like this think the church is, a country club? What in the world is this person thinking?

Maybe the problem is we need to disband membership and start a partnership. Too often membership is treated like "I pay my fines and then I get all the benefits" and sadly in church that frequently means "I walked down an isle and said I believe in Christ so what do I get now" (and they don't even tithe).

This mentality needs to change. I say get rid of membership and move to partnership.

Discipleship: Using Our Resources Wisely, Part 3

Make sure you read part one and part two first.

Why do some choose to be option-#1-minded, desiring to give of their resources all at once rather than careful investments? As a whole, being option-#1-minded is a bad thing. It says, of even the best intending person (usually some and not all of these):
  1. I'm impatient. "I'd rather just do it right the first time myself and investments can take too much long-term time and energy."
  2. I'm unwilling to invest in the lives of others. "I'd rather just give the man a fish than teach him how to fish for himself."
  3. I'm easily disappointed in others. "Seems like everyone one in twelve, or so, seems to not make the cut and fall away."
  4. I'm untrusting of others with my stuff. "Will they really take what I give them and use it well? Will they take care of what I give them? Will they use it like I would use it?"
We have to be cautious to not be the guy who doesn't do anything to multiply his resources (Matthew 25:14-30). We can't be the kind of people who would rather play it safe and think our heavenly Father is going to be happy with how we've used what we've been given. At the end of our life there will be those who will stand alone with a list of their person "works" and there will be those who will stand with an army of people and many lists of "works". Each list might be much shorter than the man that stand alone, but I believe God will delight in them more and there will be many more crowns given to that crowd.

Note: in an attempt to keep my posts shorter I've split this topic into multiple parts. I'll release them one at a time a few days apart.

After Youth Christmas Party Fun

The favorite gift of the night was this nerf-like gun. It was stolen a lot during "Dirty Santa".

Thursday, December 20, 2007


"A fiddler on the roof...Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word! Tradition!"
- Tevye, Fiddler On The Roof

Tradition! It's the act of doing something in repetition, trusting that it's beneficial in some way. I believe that church tradition probably started with trying to devise ways we could draw closer to God, be more like Christ, and serve the church. For example, when someone wanted to know how to "keep the Sabbath holy" someone gave a good answer and it became tradition. I believe most traditions in the church started from the desire to bring people closer to God, to give the masses some direct application of God's Word. The intent of tradition was good.

. . .but some people treat tradition as if it was the very Word of God. . . some go so far as to hold it above God's Word (maybe because of their ignorance of what God's Word really says). . .

If a tradition was created, maybe a hundred years ago (and many people don't realize that their traditions are not as old as the New Testament itself), to help us draw close to God, be more like Christ, and serve the church does it still serve that same purpose today?

Just be sure that the church traditions you're following aren't a dead horse taking you and everyone around you nowhere. Remember, something needs to be pulling the wagon the church is riding and it better be Christ and His Word alone. . .not tradition.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Discipleship: Using Our Resources Wisely, Part 2

Make sure you read part one first.

Would your decision be altered, or become clearer, if you found out that in option #2 many of the people you gave the $50,000 to each year would also end up multiplying their money instead of using it up all at once?

When looking at a ministry of the the church, whether we're talking about youth ministry, the evangelistic efforts of a church, a worship team, or any other part, we should find ourselves asking the same question "should I go with option #1 or should I go with option #2?" The pros and cons change a little and dollars become "our resources" (everything we have at our disposal).

Option #1: Give It All Away
The focus here is to have a string of events that demands a lot of the resources you already have available to you in the church. It sort of takes what the church already has and tries to produce the most it can from those resources. Part of those resources are the people, those who are already willing to volunteer their time and are already fairly capable. Pros: People do get reached and they do get helped, at least temporarily; the first time the church tries something it might look pretty good and impress the rest of the church. Cons: There's a high risk of burning individuals out; the same small handful of people are always doing all the work; no one knows how to pass on what they do (or no one is willing); the work of the individual will die with that individual.

Option #2: Try To Multiply The Resources
The focus here is less on what you have and more on what you hope to have. The hope that more can be achieved drives the person to take necessary risks and challenges. Those that are already volunteers and already fairly capable are not seen as the only resource. The questions is "how can I turn these other people into resources?" Pros: The work seems to increasingly get divided up as the years go by; if an individual steps away from the work someone else is able to pick it up; individuals are far less likely to suffer from burn out; more people are impacted (and the impact on people is longer lasting). Cons: A lot more mistakes are made as you trust unskilled individuals to learn.

Read Matthew 25:14-30 and you'll see a clear case for how God desires for us to take the resources He has given us and multiply it (and He wasn't just talking about money).

In part three I'll talk about why we get stuck being, or choose to be, option-#1-minded in unhealthy ways and the fear of trusting others with our resources (why so many find option #2 to be scary).

Also read part three.

Note: in an attempt to keep my posts shorter I've split this topic into multiple parts. I'll release them one at a time a few days apart.

Also read part three.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jesus. . .The Good Guy?

Once, I asked my youth, "have you ever seen Jesus in the life of someone else? Who was it and what Christ-like qualities did you see in their life?" As I began to listen to their answers it didn't take long before I noticed a trend forming.

Their answers were things along the lines of "they're really nice", "they treat everyone fairly", and "they are generous with their money". As I heard these answers I began asking myself do they really know what Christ-like qualities are? God isn't nice, He's holy. God isn't fair, He's just. God doesn't just give us what we want, He blesses us with what we need. The problem I saw was that there was a big mix up, some confusion, concerning their understanding of what "Christ-like qualities" were. Let me explain. . .

Most people have some understanding of what is good and what is evil that would be universally agreed upon (another words, no matter who you asked they would agree that it's good or evil). For example, few would argue against the consensus that murder is evil and few would argue against the consensus that rape is evil. But there are tons of things out there that people will never be at a consensus as to whether certain things are good or evil.

So how do we know what's good and what's evil?

Most people use the "what feels right at the moment" method. Some people use the "what's good for me might be bad for you and what's bad for me might be good for you" method. People have all kinds of ways to determine what they think is good and evil.

God's people aren't supposed to look at good and evil like this because there's a difference between what the world calls "good" and "evil" and what God says is good and evil. And the methods of figuring out what is good and evil, between the world's way and God's way, are vastly different. With God's way, it's simply whatever God says. If He says it's good then it is and if He says it's evil then it is.

Going back to my youth group. . .their problem was that when they were asked "what Christ-like qualities do you see in the lives of others" what they really heard was "what 'good' qualities do you see in the lives of others" and so their answers were all about "good" things according to the world's standards. I asked my youth, "Can you find any of the qualities you gave me, as being Christ-like, in the Bible?" I think they began to get my point.

In order for us to be Christ-like we can't just be "good" people. We have to be like Christ. That is what makes us stand out in the world. That is how people will see Jesus living in us.

If a person doesn't truly understand, or know, what Christ-like qualities are then how will they. . .
  1. . . .see these qualities in other people?
  2. . . .be able to exam their own behavior?
  3. . . .keep their brothers and sisters in Christ accountable?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Discipleship: Using Our Resources Wisely, Part 1

Imagine, for a moment, that you were blessed with a million dollars. You then determined that God had already blessed you so much financially that you wanted to do something special with this "extra" wealth.

With this wealth you decided to help those who are less fortunate financially and wanted to assist as many people as you could.

Option #1: Give It All Away
You could give all of your money away in one shot. Pros: It would help a tremendous number of people; for only one year it would require an intense amount of work. Cons: You would never be able to help people like that again; it would require an intense amount of work (which means you would most likely burn out by the end of the year).

Option #2: Try To Multiply The Money
You make wise investments and give away all that you profit. For example, let's say you were able to profit 5% of of the million annually, then that would be $50,000 you could give away each year. It would take you 20 years to give $1 million away but you would be able to keep giving year after year because you would always have the original million to keep multiplying. Pros: You would help more people in a life time; you are far less likely to burn yourself out on the workload. Cons: You would help less people in a year; you would have to do the work every year.

If you had to pick between the two options, which one would you pick? Why?

Also read part two and part three.

Note: in an attempt to keep my posts shorter I've split this topic into multiple parts. I'll release them one at a time a few days apart.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Golden Compass Review, Part 3

What do John Lennon and Nietzsche have to do with the recent Christian "up-in-arms" over the "Golden Compass" movie? Check out Thoughts on the Golden Compass over at Experiential Youth Ministry.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

21 Steps to Church Health

I found this at Cerulean Sanctum by Dan Edelen and found it to be an interesting read. What caught my attention the most was #10, when Dan explains how youth pastors should really be the pastor of parents of the youth. The titles don't always explain the meaning very well but if you click on the link and read them, it's rather clear and Dan makes some really good points.

This is a top 21 going from lesser to most important.
21. Two-way sermons can increase biblical understanding.
20. Leaders should seek out the gifted.
19. Leaders should primarily come from within a congregation, not from the outside.
18. Christian intellectuals must be honored.
17. A church's core values should be obvious.
16. Deal with offenses swiftly.
15. Not more church plants, but more connections to existing churches.
14. Think like a visitor.
13. Our neighbors matter to Jesus.
12. Be a church for all kinds of people.
11. Conduct a proper self-examination.
10. Fire the youth pastor. . .then rehire him for his true purpose.
9. Be hospitable.
8. Rethink how we use our time.
7. Strive toward true community.
6. Develop a holistic Christian world view.
5. Restore the importance of the Scriptures.
4. Make the church for believers.
3. Recover prayer & fasting-especially to repentance.
2. Live by The Golden Rule.
1. Show people Jesus.

Late Addition: Dan makes some good points on some of these, but some I slightly to totally disagree with him on. The point is to get you thinking (that's why it's under "Thought Provoking".

Random Findings

Here are a few links to some articles/blog postings I found to be very insightful.
  1. Everything I Know About Presentations, I Learned in Theatre School
  2. Dangers to Your Christian Walk
  3. Seven Ways I’d Love to See Youth Ministry Change
I hope you enjoy them too!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Golden Compass Review, Part 2

My brother-in-law made a post about the movie as well. He makes some good points about boycotting and reviews how the movie stands up to other fantasy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass Review

As I watched the movie I found myself looking for anti-Christian imagery or dialog and I had a hard time spotting anything.
  1. Now I know the Magisterium is supposed to represent the church but I could just as easily use it as an illustration in one of the lessons as the gay-rights agenda, church liberals, or any other group that is fighting to have what they want at any cost; I could even label the Magisterium as representing atheists. I wonder how Phillip Pullman would like that?
  2. According to Pullman the mysterious "dust" is supposed to represent sin and he contrasts Adam and Eve not as a great fall but as liberation, which means "dust" (or sin) is a good thing. But by watching the movie there's no clue given that dust and sin are the same thing. It's just made clear that something about the mysterious dust holds the key to something important.
  3. I find it rather interesting that the author who claims to be an atheist and who wrote "His Dark Materials" out of his hatred for God (the one true God; the father of Jesus) would pull from other religions (mostly cults actually) for inspiration for his fantasy, whether it was intentional or not.
Maybe the fact that I haven't read the book is where I'm missing some important information. Or perhaps it's because Pullman's agenda for "killing God in the eyes of children" doesn't begin to really appear until the second book (as I've read from many reviews) that this first movie doesn't truly have an anti-Christian feel to it.

What I do know is this. . .
  1. Those of us who are Christians need to learn that it's okay to have faith and ask questions.
  2. That authors such as Pullman are most likely less dangerous than a high school teacher that loves Walt Whitman and teaches Whitman's personal philosophies; or countless other authors that are being held in high regard and taught in high schools across our country.
  3. If Christians start banning the Golden Compass (as I've read the Catholic League is demanding of Catholics and many evangelical churches are suggesting to their congregations) then they are actually sounding a good bit like the Magisterium from the movie. No wonder some of the un-churched see the church as totalitarian dictator over the souls of people condemning them to hell for any wrong action.
  4. Christians need to stop being so loud about what they're against, because most people don't really know what we're for.
Lastly. . .it wasn't all that great of a movie.

Thoughts, Concerns, and Prayer Requests

These are really random, in no particular order, and just many of the things that have been running through my head:
  1. Youth ministry needs to make a shift to helping parents become better parents. There must be a shift from the expectation that the church is to raise their children and teach them "good morales" to the parents realizing it is their God-given duty to raise their children, and they do need help.
  2. Are there conferences out there designed for youth pastors to learn more about how to be an effective discipler of parents so they can be a better discipler of their children?
  3. Making sure the youth here at Kitty Hawk Baptist know I love them, I'll just be a phone call away, and I'm not disappearing from their life completely.
  4. Finding strong and healthy youth events to take youth to (I know Student Life is in the area, but no more WinterFest or The Call).
  5. Getting into the schools in Vero Beach. My father-in-law recommended becoming a substitute teacher to get plugged in to the schools. Sounds like a good plan to me.
  6. My sister-in-law is pregnant, but she has CF. So as much as a child being brought into the world is exciting news, there are really big, life-threatening, risks because of Tricia's CF. She really needs a double lung transplant but that's on hold for the baby. It sounds like she'll be put on the waiting list for lungs as soon as the baby is born.
  7. Tricia and Nathan (Tricia's husband) will most likely not be home for Christmas because of Tricia's weakened state, and that really saddens me.
  8. My wife and I are moving and that includes a lot: physically moving, asking friends to help us with the move, starting a new ministry (pretty much from scratch), making new friends, getting licensed to preach, training new volunteers and not having an experienced core group to start with.
  9. My wife being able to find a job in Vero Beach. One that pays pretty good money. Benefits would be really nice. She put her resume together this week and has sent it to 6 or 7 places so far. Most of the job listings we're finding are retail jobs and they're just not going to have the pay or benefits we are hoping for.
  10. My mom and dad just moved. My dad starts going to a bible college in Jan. and they're taking a really big leap of faith with their finances. Well they had someone who was buying their own house and the signing of the deal was this week but the buyer backed out. They have about 2 months worth of money which means they have 2 months to sell their old house and land before they're in really big trouble.
If you could take a moment to pray for one of these that would be more than greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Do You Rescue Like Jesus Does? (Part 2)

Read Part 1 first or this really won't make sense.

This topic was split from part 1 on Dec. 5, 2007 because of it's length. If you read Part 1 before Dec. 4th then you have already read this portion.

Lots of Christians seem to hold to the first view—the world is a bad place and Jesus rescues us out of it to somewhere safe (heaven). But there are many Jesus-followers who hold to the second rescue definition. Christ has come to rescue the creation itself by transforming it so ultimately it will be freed from evil and God will live with his people in the new—or renewed—earth and heavens.

Now here's the tricky part. . .Jesus didn't just give us a gift and then abandon us. Those of us who are true followers of Christ have been given a gift and then He left us with a mission. He passed His work on to us so that now, we become the rescuers. The truth is, Christ spent far more time talking about rescuing by transformation than He did about escape. It wasn't just about one day being in heaven; it was also about being a transformed vessel that in turn becomes a vessel of transformation for our community and world. We're supposed to be in the work of helping lives to be transformed (God does the actual transforming but we get to be a part of the process, which ends up transforming us even more).

Are you ready to be a rescuer? Someone who will join Jesus in transforming the world? We don’t have to wait around for the final rescue (going to heaven). We can begin acts of transformation now.

If you pressed most people on what their dream is, it would be to see the world free from suffering, pain, and injustice—a creation healed. This is precisely the Christian vision of hope for the future and the kind of rescue Christ came to bring. It’s time to start getting people to know and be involved in the rescue plan.
  1. Which rescue by Jesus have you grown up believing? What does your church say?
  2. What kind of salvation did Jesus bring if it's only about rescue by escape?
  3. What kind of salvation did Jesus bring if it's only about rescue by transformation?
  4. Do you think it’s possible that the truth about salvation is somewhere in the middle? Or a combination of the two ideas?
  5. If rescue by escape is all about who's getting to go to heaven, then in what ways would rescue by transformation make Christianity more relevant for your friends?
  6. If our message to the un-churched is all about heaven and hell, who's in and who isn't, then doesn't the church become more like a social club?
  7. What if our message to the un-churched is Christ came to transform us in a world full of hurt and pain, and then to use us to help transform the lives of others?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

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Do You Rescue Like Jesus Does?

This topic was split because of it's length.

Why did Jesus come into the world? What was the goal of his mission?

Lots of words are used to describe Jesus and what he came to do. But the one I want you to think about is Jesus coming to be a rescuer. Nearly every hero is involved in some type of rescue, and these rescues fall into two main types: rescue by escape and rescue by transformation.

Rescue by escape involves saving people from a bad or dangerous place to a place of safety. It's like a fireman that saves the child from a burning building. The fireman has rescued the child from taking him from the burning building.

Rescue by transformation involves changing peoples’ surroundings from bad or dangerous to good or safe. This rescue doesn’t involve physically taking people from a bad place to a good place—they end up being rescued, but they're still in the same place. This is like Batman trying to clean up Gotham City by striking fear into criminals. Batman hopes to rescue the city by transforming it into a better place. When we look around at the world we live in, I think we would all agree that there's a great need for us to be rescued (injustice, hatred, greed, racism, war, violence, environmental disasters, gossip, etc.).

Christians know Jesus is our rescuer, but which kind of rescue has he come to make? Is it rescue by escape—meaning he has primarily come to rescue us away from a dangerous place (earth) to somewhere safe (heaven)? Or is it rescue by transformation—meaning Jesus has come to rescue us by driving out the baddies (the devil and all types of evil) and transforming the world into a good and safe place so we can live again in peace?

Continuing reading in Part 2.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kayaking on the Alligator River

Sarah and I got up at 5:45am to go kayaking with some of her co-workers at Kitty Hawk Kites to go kayaking on the Alligator River. I wasn't looking forward to it all that much. I'll be honest, I'm not much of a morning person. In fact, I fell asleep in the shower once trying to make it to a 6am meeting. Also, I was expecting it to be cold and the forecast was calling for rain.

When we woke up it was a little cold and it was barely raining outside. By the time we arrived at our location though it had warmed up considerably and the rain had stopped, and I was starting to wake up.

We kayaked for a little more than 2 hours and it was awesome! It was peaceful out there and beautiful! I love that I have a wife that enjoys this kind of stuff. . .and she get me to do this stuff when I'm feeling lazy.

Still Making Memories At Kitty Hawk Baptist

So a few weeks ago Sarah and I made it public that we're leaving Kitty Hawk Baptist Church and I had taken a position in Vero Beach, Florida as a youth pastor. We've been wondering if there would be a "fall-out" or some other complication with us leaving. One of our dear friends at the church said to Sarah and I this, "well those who love you are excited for you and think this a great opportunity for you, but those who didn't like you are happy too because you're leaving; either way, you win". And he is right. But what I'm loving is the love we're being shown.

Last night was youth group. The lesson went really well and it got the kids really thinking about how Christ come to be an agent of transformation in our life and that we in turn are to be an agent of transformation in the lives of others around us. We get to be heroes. The kids got it which shows me the news of me leaving isn't distracting them from the message.

But here's where it was really awesome. . .

After the lesson was over and small groups were done I looked to Sarah and just asked her if she was okay with us going out to eat. With her saying yes I asked, who wanted to go out to eat. After goofing off and joking around for a while we finally came to the decision to go to Five Guys (a great burger place).

The conversations we had were a mixture of what's next for the youth group to some of them wanting to come down and visit for spring break. A lot of the questions for what's going to happen next with youth group I couldn't answer, but the questions they were asking were important ones and it bothered me that I don't know what's going to happen and a big part of me is afraid for them (something I would rather not go into detail about right now).

They were asking about what the church was like. One youth was talking about how she would plan her spring break to come see us and asked us if it would be okay. We told all the youth to come, which I would LOVE! They were talking about Sarah and I still trying to go to Honduras on the mission trip I had been planning for them, but we have others stepping in to do that (we will need to place all of our focus on the new ministry God has put us in). They were even trying to talk us into taking whatever youth group I have in Florida and joining them. Of course we don't know what we can and can't do yet, or what will be best to do, but that's not what I was hearing from them. I was hearing, "Sarah and Terry, we love you and we're really going to miss you."

I love them too! And I going to miss them.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Special Christmas

Life has been extremely busy lately, especially since my announcement to the church that I have taken another position in Florida. But yesterday I think it finally hit me. . .Christmas is here.

I think a build up of emotions, stress, and too much to do sort of numbed my excitement, but two nights ago Sarah and I went to "The Festival of Trees", a local charity event. There we saw the Mile Post 13 band (the worship band at Nags Head Church) and that really got me into the holiday mood. Check out the videos, on my bother-in-law's blog, of them playing (he's their leader). These guys did such a phenomenal job! It was beautiful!

I think what also helped the spirit of Christmas "hit me" was I spent some time yesterday sneaking around getting gifts for Sarah (my wife on the right with our dog). That was fun!

I'm really looking forward to this Christmas. It will be the first Christmas Sarah and I share together. It will be the first time since I was a teenager that I will be with a larger family for Christmas (the Lawrensons). Exchanging gifts with the Lawrensons. Food!

I think what is exciting me most of all is that I now have a family, Sarah. And I get to share this wonderful time of year with her. She has made Christmas so fun! She's been putting together homemade advent calendars for the youth. She decorated the tree very unlike what I'm used to. I'm used to throwing everything but the kitchen sink on it. When I look at our tree it feels warm and inviting. Sarah has made our place look like a home. Sarah has also been saying "you're not allowed to ask questions this time of year" to me a lot. . .which is fun. PRESENTS!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Barbarians At The Church Door

"I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ's sufferings for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his message in all its fullness to you Gentiles. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to his own holy people. For it has pleased God to tell his people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory." (Colossians 1:24-27, NLT)
In the Greek the word "Gentile" can be translated as a race of people or nation, but it was also a derogatory term used by Jews that meant foreigners or barbarians. This was the view of most Jews during Jesus' time. They despised the influences of foreigners, the Romans. They viewed the Romans as barbaric, crude, and destructive to their worship and obedience to God. They wanted to kick them out of their country.

How many churches today look at those that are not familiar with church, the un-churched, and treat them like Gentiles? The un-churched are our barbarians, who are rude, vulgar, and so many want to kick them out of the church (or create programming in our church that discourages them from wanting to stick around).

Most churches today are absolutely terrified of letting a little dirt walk in their doors. They want to be safe, secure, and unchallenged. Let's be honest; inviting the barbarians in means more risk and more challenge. But what would happen if we took these barbarians, like Paul did, reached them for Christ and equipped them for ministry?
"So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ's mighty power that works within me." (Colossians 1:28-29, NLT)
Maybe if we, like Paul, would make the purpose of the church to reach today's Gentiles, the un-churched, then we too would experience the same kind of awesome rewards Paul saw happening: spiritual maturity that hungers for more, people constantly devoting themselves to a deep relationship with Christ, church members rising up everywhere to serve and lead, a people who see it as their job to share the Gospel, teach, and instruct others (and not see these solely as the job of the pastor), the motto "to live is to Christ and to die is gain" would be stamped on the heart of our members, challenge and change wouldn't be something we dread but rather it would be something we get excited about (God will be on the brink of doing something awesome and you'll get to participate), etc.

So why do we read so often from Paul, yet so often we do not follow the example he gave us (as God has commanded us to; 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1)? People are terrified of change. I've been told that the older a person gets the more terrified of change a person gets. We have to fight this fleshly, sinful fear of change within ourselves and reach the Gentiles of today.

Paul took the very vessel his people hated, Rome, and embraced it as a vessel that could (and did) spread Christianity across a continent. Inviting the barbarians in, and not so they can come to start dressing like us and playing church like us, but genuinely desiring their presence to minister to them, will impact our church, our community, and on to the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Elders & Deacons, Part 3

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

In closing up this studying on Elders and Deacons let's look at one last important part concerning elders, what exactly does scripture say they're supposed to do? What does scripture say concerning how the church is should treat the elders?

Duties, Responsibilities, and Cautions of Elders
  1. Those who are living in unrepentant sin within the church let the elders publicly rebuke them in the presence of the church. (1 Timothy 5:20-21; this goes along with Matthew 18)
  2. Elders should not be quick to appoint any person to ministry. (1 Timothy 5:22,24-25)
  3. Elders must realize they are caring for God's flock, not their own. (1 Peter 5:2)
  4. They are to lead out of eagerness to serve, not out of obligation. (1 Peter 5:2)
  5. Elders are concerned for what they can give, not for what they can get. (1 Peter 5:2)
  6. They lead by example, not force. (1 Peter 5: 3)
  7. Elder are to mediate great (not little) debates. (Acts 15:2)
  8. They are to guard themselves and all of the church members. (Acts 20:28)
  9. They are managers of the church. (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17)
  10. Elders are to care and tend to the physical and spiritual needs of people. (Acts 20:28; James 5:14)
Treatment and Caring for Elders
  1. Pay your elders well, a high wage. (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
  2. Don't give attention to accusations brought up against elders unless it's been brought up by 2 or more. (1 Timothy 5:19; this goes along with Matthew 18)
  3. Young men don't be prideful and think you know better than the elders. (1 Peter 5:5)
Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 1) or Elders & Deacons (Part 2).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Preacher And The Teacher

A few of the conversations I've been having lately got me thinking and I figured why not share my thoughts on my blog, right.

A pastor delivers a message on Sunday morning. If he's a good pastor then the message is from God's Word. There are many different forms of giving a sermon that have been studied and learned, but that's not what's been on my mind. I've been thinking about why the pastor choses the topics he shares with his church. We'll call the two types the preacher and the teacher.

The preacher is a man who looking for something meaningful to share with his congregation on Sunday morning. His motivation might be different from another preacher but they all have a few things in common, "let me tell the people something about what God's Word says concerning how they should live their life (or the kinds of things the church should be doing)". That's a little vague, but vagueness is exactly how the preacher will often operate. One Sunday they're talking about God's Love, the next they're talking about how homosexuality is a sin, the next they're talking about "end times", and sometimes they're doing a study on a book from the bible but every week that changes subjects too, all of which is good stuff but it's lacking something.

It's sort of like a 3rd grader going to school. When they get there a teacher begins working with them on their times-tables (multiplication; at least that's what I was doing in the third grade). But what if this teacher started trying to teach the same kids, who were working on their times-tables, how to count from 1 to 10? And then at the next day of school they were being shown calculus? Sometimes that's a bit like that with a preacher pastor.

Now the kind of pastor that's a teacher is really different from that. The teacher knows that when the kids are working on their times-tables you don't start throwing calculus at them and you don't bore them over and over with the stuff they already know and are already doing a great job of applying. This is true of the teaching pastor. He knows his students; knowing what they already know and then makes every effort to get them to the next depth in their walk with Christ.

Am I making sense?

The pastor who is a preacher will treat Sunday morning like it's the only time they get the teach their congregation so they try to play to everyone in it at all their various spiritual maturity levels, and they usually will only reach maybe a quarter of their congregation, if they're lucky. But the teaching pastor will begin by seeing where his students are and begin to get the whole class to move to the next level.

The preaching pastor is not focused on the church moving forward, but rather he's just trying to motivate some people to get some things done around the church, and that's exactly how he preaches. The preaching pastor provides something good to listen to and some good things the church can do. The teaching pastor provides purpose, the next level, and vision. It's more than just how should I live my life this week, but it's "let's get this right as a church" and when they're done there's another place the teaching pastor is going to take them.

Do you see how these can be handled very differently on a Sunday morning?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Google Analytics

On Oct. 7, 2007 I discovered Google Analytics from another blog and by Oct. 8th it was up and running. Google Analytics is a website tracker, basically letting you know how many visits your got and where they came from (and a lot of other nice things).

I've been blogging now since June, although I didn't get serious about it until October so I'm doubting Google Analytics would have had much to say before Oct.

The stats show that since I re-thought about blogging (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), which was just a couple weeks ago, has already made some impact. I'm thinking the new name may have been a good choice.

Here are some stats just for fun.
My top 10 referral sites (places people clicked to come to my blog):
  4. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
  6. google/organic
Out of my referrals some generated people who looked at my site longer than others. Here's my top 5 length views from referrals (I only included those that had at least 10 referrals):
  5. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
Out of my referrals which ones are generating the most new visitors, in the form of top 5 again?
  5. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
This stuff is interesting to me. The last thing that got my attention was visitor loyalty, the number of people to return to your site. Apparently I have 46 people who have visited the site 50+ times since Oct. 8, 2007. Out of the 444 people that stop by 151 have not returned, but 116 of them have visited the site 15+ times.

I wonder if all of this is accurate.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Elders & Deacons, Part 2

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

The common questions of the church today is "who should be running the church?" and "what should our leadership look like?". By and large many pastors have been turned into deacons, spending 80% if their time doing acts of benevolence, while a large number of churches have deacon boards acting as elders, when they're not biblically qualified to do so, ruling the church and rarely diving into benevolence.

In part one we learned that deacons and elders are two different offices; one was designed to rule and one was designed to serve. So, in part two I want to take a very light look into the roles of elders and deacons just by looking at their name.

The Name Of An Elder
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, '. . .Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.'" (Acts 20:17-18a,28, NASB)
This is not the only passage that contain defining points of what the role of an elder is, but this passage makes it clear that the elder is an overseer and a shepherd. So let's start by looking at the Greek to see what the meaning of these words are and what it tells us about the functions of an elder:
  1. Elder, πρεσβύτερος (transliterated as presbuteros), simply means someone advanced in years, an old man.
  2. Overseer, ἐπίσκοπος (transliterated as episkopos), sometimes translated as bishop, means a superintendent and guardian.
  3. Shepherd, ποιμαίνω (transliterated as poimainô), means to act as a shepherd, to care, to rule, and to tend.
The Name Of A Deacon
Unlike elder, the word deacon is not given multiple names that define it's role, but it has one that is very powerful:
  1. Deacon, διάκονος (transliterated as diakonos), mean a servant or minister.
What Does A Name Teach Us?
Practically everything! We learned that an elder means:
  1. . . .an old man because older men are supposed to be respected, wise, and full of experience (something not always true of today; but certainly true of an older man who has devoted himself to Christ). . .
  2. . . .a superintendent because they're supposed to direct and manage the work of the church. . .
  3. . . .a guardian because they need to be able to shoot wolves. . .
  4. . . .a shepherd because they need to huddle the sheep together, watch over them, and guard them. . .
  5. . . .care and tend for the people because because people are hurt and broken, and this especially means going to the places no one else wants to go. . .
  6. . . .and rule over the people because God loves us enough to send some who are gifted through His Spirit in such ways to direct us to places in our relationship with Christ that we could have never imagined; we need to be ruled (Hebrews 13:17).
We learned that an deacon means:
  1. . . .a servant because they're in service to someone else, in submission to other leadership, a heart to wash the feet of others. . .
  2. . . .and a minister because they are the representatives of Christ, the hands and feet.
Service is something the church must do more of. One of the church's primary functions is supposed to be about serving one another. But the work of serving is extremely time consuming and if done as the church should do it is a never ending demand. This is why deacons were created so that elders would be free to do their other obligations (Acts 6:4) such as teaching and discipleship.

Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 1) or Elders & Deacons (Part 3).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dog Sitting

So this is Lilly (yellow/white) and Bennett (black/tan/brown/white). We're dog sitting Bennett for two of our dear friends during the holiday season so they can travel. They're brother and sister and they love to play fight, although occasionally it turns into more than just playing. I'm just happy they listen to commands. . .most of the time. I'm really enjoying having both of them around, but wow they're a handful together! Josh and Bethany have dog sit for us many times and this is our first chance to repay the favor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elders & Deacons

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

What are Deacons & Elders?

Deacons and elders are two distinct and different offices of the church. If this were not true then why would Paul, in Philippians 1:1, makes an address to the elders (ἐπίσκοπος; also translated as overseers or bishops) and deacons (διάκονος; also translated as servant or minister)? And why would Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, list off qualification for elders (v.1-7) and then the qualifications for a deacon (v.8-13)? The answer is simple, and should be obvious, they are two different offices within the church.

What Makes Deacons & Elders Different?
There are a few places in scripture that give us some indication to the difference between of deacons and elders. To begin with, let's just look at what's available through looking at the qualifications of each in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 (click on the image to the right to see the qualifications compared).

Notice what they have in common and then look at what's different. Also, notice how they're very similar in some way with a few key differences. For example, both have to be able to manage their homes well, but for elders it adds that if he can not manage his home how would he manage the church; and elders aren't allowed to be a new convert, but deacons simply must be tested first.

So why do the two share some qualifications? I think everyone would agree that whether we're talking about deacons or elders they are both a type of leader in the church and both should be godly individual. Those seen in both are simply the basic qualifications that should be seen in the leaders of the church.

So why do the two have some different qualifications? In short, because they're supposed to be doing different things in the church. The qualifications are God's ways of having the right kind of people for the kind of role He desires for them to have in His church.

The Whole Deacon & Elder Thing
Before I continue there's an important point I have to make. There is an amazing amount of controversy over this subject. So many denominations have different takes on the subject and even my own denomination (Southern Baptist) is showing division on the subject.

So what's the problem? We're all following the Word of God right? Well, yes and no.

The problem is churches/denominations that take, or have taken, far too many liberties with God's Word. It makes sense when we as believers have to "fill in the blanks" when God's Word isn't specific about a subject, like dating. But we're supposed to take what God has given us and make use of it for what He left open. He left things a little open so that we would have freedom to adapt ministries, not so that we could argue over it's exact meaning and somehow end up not following at all the part He did make clear.

I know within my own denomination when I hear the arguments over elders and deacons so many of the stances are based on historical accounts and tradition. Why isn't it based on a simple re-examining of God's Word?

Looking Deeper: The Roles of Deacons & Elders
What if God designed deacons and elders to have two different functions in the church? It should be obvious that there's a good deal of truth to that just by looking at the qualifications of each. This is how deacons came to be created:
"Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.'" (Acts 6:1-3, NASB)
The office of deacon was created to free the apostles, who functioned as the first pastors/elders, to pray and prepare to minister the Word. The Apostle became overwhelmed with trying to tend to everyone, so much so that their ability to preach, teach, and disciple was being hindered. They needed servant-hearted men.

The office of deacon was created for the purpose of handling the benevolence ministry of the church. Even the word deacon means servant.

Now let's look at some places that give us insight into the role of an elder:
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, '. . .Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.'" (Acts 20:17-18a,28, NASB)
"The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." (1 Timothy 5:17, NASB)
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17, NASB)
"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." (1 Peter 5:1-4, NASB)
It's clear that elders are to rule their flock and even more clear that deacons are supposed to take weight off their shoulders by handling the benevolence ministries of the church.

What About Deacon Boards?
Are deacons boards unbiblical? What we do know is that deacons should not be ruling the church. That's the function of an elder or elder team/board. How do you know when the deacons are doing far more than just handling the benevolence of the church and beginning to rule the church? Consider these 3 items by Howard B. Foshee in The Ministry of a Deacon:
  1. When all major recommendations from church operations and church committees are screened by the deacons whether they should go to the congregation.
  2. When the pastor and staff members are directly responsible to the deacons rather than to the church.
  3. When the use or expenditure of major church resources, such as facilities and fiances, must first be approved by the deacons.
Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 2) or Elders & Deacons (Part 3).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Once Upon A Time I Could Draw

With my parents moving they needed me to clear out everything. When I got home, with what was mostly junk, I found a lot of my old drawings. It must have been over 100 drawings in the stack that my mom decided to hold on to.

Once upon a time I wanted to be an artist. I remember beginning to draw around age 10. It started with Sunday comics from the newspaper. Most of the time it was Garfield and Odie. By my freshmen year of high school I was drawing like the picture to the right. I would doodle and draw all the time.

I got into so much trouble at school over drawing and doodling. I remember my freshmen year of high school my math teacher caught me drawing a female superhero (I think it was Jean Grey). Well, I wasn't done with it and he caught me in the act, but because it wasn't done yet. . .well, let's just say he thought it looked like the beginnings of a pornographic drawing and he really laid me out in front of the class.

I remember being 15 or 16 and I got the flu. I was home a little more than 2 weeks. I remember starting to work on the one to the left when I was feeling better, and then I got sick again. I never did pick it back up. It was going to be Wolverine and Sabertooth facing off. I loved drawing Wolverine.

I scanned a few of these picture just for memories, so I would remember that once upon a time I could draw.(This one was huge; it took two scans and I had to put the two together)

Resigning & Moving

So this Sunday I informed the church that I've taken a position at another church. My wife and I will be making the move to Florida soon. It's exciting and feels weird at the same time. I think it feels weird talking with people and not knowing what their reaction to me leaving is.

Some of the reactions hurt, but in a good way. When I noticed one of my youth's eyes getting red and tearing up, that got to me. When a husband and wife said that were really enjoying getting to know me better and now were leaving, that got to me. When I was called a member of someone's family, that got to me.

Parting can be really difficult, but God has made it clear that it's time for me to go. In fact, I think God has been saying it for a while now. There are many things I'm going to really miss about being here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, most of all will be the relationships that have been formed.

I think these last two months here will carry a lot of emotional difficulty, but I'm looking forward to what God has in store for Sarah and I.

(Sarah recorded this with my new camera.)

The New Camera

So I'm really happy with the new camera. It's really easy to use and takes really good shots. I wish I remembered to bring it yesterday to the puppy party we had a Nags Head Park. Oh well. Here are two shots with it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It Arrives Tomorrow

My new camera is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I'm excited!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Blog Name, Part 3

Okay, so this is turning out to be rather tough for me, but I'm starting to narrow it down. I suggest to my wife, for her input, "Authentic, Relevant Ministry" and her response was, "two adjectives. Why not just Authentic Ministry?" I thinking that just may be the direction I'm going to go.

Now, as I think about who I would like my target audience to be I have to think about what I really want to talk about and who I want to attract. I want to talk about the things I learn and try in ministry, my mistakes and successes. I want to talk about re-thinking leadership and all that comes with transitioning (not from an expert, but as I learn and figure things out). I want to talk about what God is doing in my life: the fun, the random, the personal, how much I love my wife, and the challenges.

Any comments or thoughts on "Authentic Ministry"?

Also see Part 1 and Part 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Skillet, Chris Tomlin, Toby Mac, KJ-52, Barlow Girl, Todd Agnew, and Lifehouse

So I did the BMG thing where you order 7 CDs and they're all free (you do have to pay shipping which cost me about $20 which isn't bad for 7 CDs) and you're required to buy one more within a year and once you do then you get 4 more for free. So I just on this. . .

I just got my shipment in today which contained 5 of my 7, 2 are on backorder. So here are my reviews, even though all of these have been out for a while.

I pulled out Comatose by Skillet first (October '06). I love the heavy sound they produce. The very first song "rebirthing" energized me. Now I only listened to each song once but the first thing that really comes to mind is how authentic the lyrics are. The first half of the CD they are tackling tough subjects like cutters (or possibly suicide) and addiction in a very real way. The lyrics are just powerful.

The negative is I'm wondering if this is a CD I can listen to over and over. I mean, as real as drug use and similar subjects are, do I really want to be hit with that reality over and over. Again, I've only listened to it once so I'll might have to come back to this.

Next I pulled out The Yearbook by KJ-52 (April '07). I've enjoyed his previous work, but after listening to about 75% of this one I stopped it. I just couldn't get into it. Nothing grabbed my attention. Maybe I'm hard to please, but I'm struggling to like this CD.

Next I pulled out See The Morning by Chris Tomlin (September '06). Okay, I didn't get to listen to all of this because my wife came home and I became busy with eating dinner and then other things, but so far this is the best one. Each and every song is something I know I'll be playing over and over in my suburban. I've only been to Nags Head Church a few times but I noticed some of these song from songs I've heard the MilePost13 Band rock'n it out to (also check out their music director's blog, or whatever his title is over there).

Okay, so Toby Mac and Barlow Girl are up next (I haven't had time to listen to them yet) and hopefully Todd Agnew and Lifehouse will arrive shortly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Blog Name, Part 2

So I started thinking about being "market-driven" as Nathan suggested, and I agree with him, so I started thinking about who is my target audience. This is creating some conflicts. . .but only minor ones. I want to be able to attract a certain kind of people but I also want to put up goofy stuff that have nothing to do with the topic and just share life stuff as well. Sometimes there will be a devotional-ish post (thought provoking) and sometimes a discussion post (even though I don't have much of an audience).

I'm probably making this harder than it should be.

Anyway. . .the word relevant kept coming to mind. Originally it was relevant church and relevant faith, but then a short list began (with the help of my wife):
1. In Search of Relevancy
2. The Search for Relevant Faith
3. The Call to Relevancy
4. Relevant Youth Pastor
5. Relevant Ministry

Other words that grabbed my attention for possible use:
1. Authentic
2. Emergent
3. Application

Still searching. Still desiring discussion, thoughts, and ideas.

New Blog Name

So I could use some brain-storming help. When I called this blog "Recording God Given Adventures" I really didn't know if I was going to stick with blogging and so I just made something up real quick. I really don't like it and I've enjoyed blogging. Since I'm going to stick with it, I want a better name.

Here are some thoughts:
1. Keeping It Simple.
2. Authentic, Real, and Transparent (ART).
3. Faithful, Available, Teachable (FAT). . .okay, that's two acronyms; what's up with that?
4. Re-Thinking, Re-Discovering, Re-Awakening

If you've been reading my blog and you see the kind of content I'm producing, what's a good name to describe it? Even if you don't have a name idea but you're getting some tidbits of thoughts, please share them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goofing Off With Graphic Design

I've been playing around with the idea of designing some new pages. I really don't have a real reason for this. . .other than to just have some fun. The first one was a page that was inspired by a business card I saw that was designed by my brother-in-law and the second one. . .well, I was just thinking about pirates and treasure maps.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Condemning & Judgmental vs. Love & Grace

Why do so many people view the church as a place of condemnation and judgment rather than place of love and grace? This is a question I had my small group leaders ask my youth last night. What kind of image do those who don't attend church have of us? And why are Christians seen as condemning and judgmental? This attitude toward believers didn't magically just happen. Something made this image of us take shape.

Here are a few things that come to mind, mistakes that have been made by Christians, and are still being made, that give fuel to the claim that we Christians are condemning and judgmental. Please comment and add to the list:
  1. Christians who act disgusted by people with tattoos and piercings.
  2. Christians who expect non-Christians to come to them (attend church).
  3. Christians who make accusations about people (or a group) based on opinions rather than truth.
  4. Christians who say one thing and do another (hypocritical).
  5. Christians who attack more than they love (how Christians have related to homosexuals is a good example of that).
  6. Christians who value tradition in the church (their mom's way of doing things) more than what's culturally relevant.
I've got more, but here's a start. . .so. . .to be continued.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Spaghetti Dinner

More of the poster designing skillz. . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm Nine Years Old. . .

. . .well, at least that's how long I've been a Christian. It was 9 years ago this month that the truth became clear to me and my life changed. In a day I wasn't the man I once was. The people I lived with began to see change in me over time, but I had a lot of struggles and a lot of battles I went through. I went from very heavy use of alcohol, mild use of drugs, immoral relationships, practicing witchcraft, and some other self-destructive behaviors to suddenly dropping all of that. God's gift to me was that I lost my taste/desire for most of the really difficult stuff at the moment Christ entered my life, but I still struggled with the habits and thoughts that led me to the destructive path I was on. The first two years of being a Christian were really hard for me.

The moment I accepted Christ (which basically means when I dropped my constant reaching for control over my life and gave it to Jesus) I was blessed to have awesome people I didn't even know praying for me. Actually, they were praying for me before I accepted Christ. One of those people discipled me. He taught me how to read my bible. He taught me the importance of getting involved in ministry that impacts (you and others). Thank you Craig!

Nine years later.

When I look at what was important to me then and what is now important to me, what a world of difference! The longer I run this race called life the more I learn of what it takes to be a better runner. Now I'm a little more than 3 months into marriage and God is teaching me more about this race.

What an awesome God, that He would take a blind fool like me and renew my mind, not just once, but constantly! I'm still pretty much a blind fool in many senses, but I have an incredible guide leading my way and I'll gladly follow Him anywhere.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Beauty Standards

Most girls have no idea that this is what they see on the cover of magazines:

Both of these videos are by Dove. This looks like an awesome introduction to a youth talk:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Little Modeling

Sarah and I did a little modeling today for her mom and friend who have a business that embellishes special events (The Embellishers). This was my favorite of what I've seen. It was freezing cold, I could have sworn my wife's arms were turning blue, and the wind was killer, but we had fun. Very entertaining afternoon!

The photos were taken by the same professional that took our wedding photos, George Ferrah at A Day To Remember Photography. He's really good! There are a good number of photos of Sarah on his website. George also took these of my brother-in-law and his pug.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Christians" Trying To Save The World

(With "quotes" refers to those who call themselves Christian and may or may not be so, while without quotes refers to those that are genuine believers and followers of Jesus.)

Here we go again.

Have you heard about all the news in "Christian" circles concerning the movie coming out soon called "The Golden Compass"? A good number of "Christians" are being quoted for their deep concern for an agenda behind this movie. In short, the movie is based on a trilogy of children's books written by Phillip Pullman. Pullman, a determined atheist, is writing these books primarily inspired by his disgust and hatred for Christianity. He's quoted that the point of the books is to kill God in the eyes of children. He's also quoted trying to do the exact opposite C.S. Lewis did with his Chronicles of Narnia, using a very similar setting and everything, except (if I understand correctly) God is the bad guy. You can read here for more details.

Think for a moment on so many of the battles "Christians" choose to fight. Think about the things that really riles us up, putting us on the offensive, and makes us want to get ready to attack. To me, "Christians" really lack strategy and vision. They know a little bit about the enemy but they really don't know how to fight. So these "Christians" sort of begin flailing their arms everywhere hoping they hit the bad guy, but all they accomplish is hitting and hurting the wrong people and they look really stupid (making the rest of us look stupid too).

Quite a few years ago, J.K. Rowling produced Harry Potter and the books have been under attack ever since. So many books and articles have been written demonizing Rowling. While I hold some belief that her books are a tool for introducing children to a pleasant, fun-filled, look at witchcraft, did she deserve to be demonized?

Too often, we "Christians" decided to attack agendas as if those leading it are the very enemy himself. We treat leaders of gay-rights, same-sex marriage, legislation from the bench, abortion, witchcraft (magic), atheism, etc. like they're the enemy, but they' re not the enemy.

We need to stop being so overly concerned with making our world safe and secure that we "Christians" bash and attack anything that challenges our faith or the faith of our children. If Christians really want to save the world then maybe they need to spend more attention on learning more about the culture in our neighborhood, the hurt and pain these people are in, the lies they have been told about God, and start reaching out to them in ways that are effective!

Now as far as this movie, "The Golden Compass", and its content, I would suggest caution from those with children. That's always wise. I haven't seen the movie (it's not out yet) so it would be really tough for me to list the specific cautions. But who knows, maybe we Christians might actually see something in the movie that will help us understand the stance of atheist more (not what they believe, we know that, but how they can better be reached).

Also, don't get me wrong. There are certainly things Christians need to stand up and fight, but we need to learn to pick our battles wisely and, even more important, learn to fight them wisely.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Risk vs. Comfort and Challenge vs. Security

Just a few reasons why a church to might not ever grow, may never hold mature members, and always remain stagnant, sort of doing one fruitless thing after another:
  1. It's not in the budget. It is too expensive.
  2. I need more time to think and pray about it.
  3. I know a church who tried it and it didn't work.
  4. Some of our best tithers would oppose that. There are people who will stop tithing if we do it.
  5. It would never produce any tithers.
  6. It's a good idea, but several years ahead of its time.
  7. The older people (or younger) would never accept it.
  8. We've done OK all these years without it.
  9. We couldn't do it until we. . .
  10. The timing's just not right. Let's put it on hold for a while.
  11. I need to see more details before I can vote on it.
  12. That's what we hired the pastor for.
  13. It doesn't fit the culture of the people around here.
  14. Our people are already overworked and stretched too thin.
  15. That would be too radical a change at one time.
  16. Our church is too small (or too big) to try that.
  17. In a larger city that might work. Perhaps it would work in a rural area, but not here.
  18. Our facilities just couldn't handle it.
  19. Something just doesn't feel right to me.
  20. Everybody's not on board yet.
  21. That’s not the Baptist’s way.
  22. Our people have been asked to give too often.
  23. The woman's group would be against it.
  24. This could be divisive. I don't see any long term value in it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh So Tired!

So my wife and I left this morning at 8am for a theme park about 2 hrs from here (Busch Gardens: Europe) as a youth function and wow are we pooped! We just got home a few minutes ago; it's getting close to midnight. What a long day. I dropped Sarah off first so she could walk the dog and stuff and now she's fast asleep. I'll be joining her momentarily!

We had a blast though! We had a small group of youth, but the FUN we had! We got Holly and Mary V. to get the courage to ride some pretty scary roller-coasters and they're pretty terrified of them. In fact, Sarah was talking about how Holly was wanting to get off the ride as it was traveling up for its swift descent, but as soon as it started going down Holly was screaming, "this ride is awesome". There were tears and laughs all in a matter of seconds. We enjoyed some good shows, some awesome rides, some good foods, and best of all, fellowship.

Oh, and the Griffin (their newest ride) scared me quite a bit. Just watching others on it made your stomach sink, but what a rush! Definitely one of the best coasters I've ever been on!

Sleepy, sleepy time. . .

Friday, October 19, 2007

First Trunk-or-Treat At My Church

So this will be the first time First Baptist Church of Kitty Hawk has ever done Trunk-or-Treat. We're still going to do our normal HarvestFest games and activities inside the fellowship hall. I'm excited!

To the right is the poster I put together for the event, but I used a PC (which are not as good as Macs when it comes to design) and I only spent around an hour on it. I was honestly not feeling the creativity. Hopefully it will still get the attention of parents and their young ones.

For an awesome advertisement for Trunk-or-Treat check out this video (based on the Sonic commercials) put together by my brother-in-law (at Practical Worship). They're doing Trunk-or-Treat at their church too, which is where I got the idea from.

That's both of my brother-in-laws in the video.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Lost My Camera

So a few weeks ago we had our annual Island Retreat for the youth. It's a time where we literally take a group of youth out onto an island and have time devoted to fellowship and God opening our eyes to things that need to be plucked from our life.

Somehow my camera ended up missing (Canon Powershot S2 IS). I didn't know it until about 2 days after we were back. Sarah had
unpacked our stuff from the trip, not really looking for the camera and so it did come to our attention until I wanted to use it. I've send out emails to everyone who went on the retreat and no one has seen it. I'm doubting anyone took it, but I wonder what happened to it. I wonder if it's still on the island hiding under a piece of furniture or something.

I think what frustrates me the most, and I know I shouldn't let it get to me, is that when I bought the camera it was worth a little over $1k, but I got it on sale for about $800. Now I'm sure it's only worth around $500-600 but it's something I can't really replace right now. I was looking at some of the equipment Carlos Whittaker (Ragamuffin Soul) uses and I'll admit I felt myself desiring what he has. He has a MacBook Pro, which I really wish I had, and he uses a Canon Powershot SD600, which I wish I could replace my missing camera with (it's not nearly as good as the one I had but it's a good camera still). But all of this is probably close to $4k more than I know I have to spare.

I know I'll end up having to buy a camera (I've used it SO much in ministry).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Conservative Faith vs. Liberal Faith

I consider myself to be rather die-hard conservative, whether it comes to my walk with Christ or in national politics, but what in the world does that mean? Especially today. I mean, we have this term called "evangelical Christian" but all that means is it's a person that believes the Gospel of Christ is true. Evangelical doesn't really mean conservative or liberal. It seems to me, the definition of what exactly is conservative or liberal seems to change greatly from person to person depending on what they personally feel is good or bad. That which is good is conservative. That which is bad is libeal.

Okay. . .let me stop. . .this is being written from the perspective on conservatives from a conservative. Those who view them self as a liberal might find this to not be true where people consider themselves liberal.

I've been encountering people, for some time now, who seem to throw around the word liberal as sort of a curse word. If a church, pastor, or individual doesn't have a theology or methods that match up with their own personal feelings on the subject then that individual (or movement) is liberal.

I see this more true in the area of Christian-on-Christian attacks. We Christians frequently cut each other to the bone. We're quick to go for each other's jugular. You don't believe me? See how much Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Rob Bell (Mars Hill Church), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church), Andy Stanley (North Point Church), Erwin McManus (Mosiac Church), etc. are constantly under attack and constantly being called liberal in either their methodology or theology. I'm not saying these guys or others are perfect. I'm not even saying we shouldn't speak up when we see things that are false and detrimental to Christians, by all means we should, but what if we're attacking the wrong things or attacking for the wrong reasons. Are they really as liberal as you believe?

Where in the WORLD is the discernment in all of this? When Christ came do you think how He talked, treated others, delivered His messages (sermons), and trained people looked anything like the rabbis and religious leaders of His time? No! Christ was the "cutting-edge" of His time. No one had seen it done like Him and He was attacked for it. Now those who claim to have love for Christ are attacking those who are trying to be just as cutting-edge, but because they're not Christ they slip and fall and test the limits of HOW CAN WE REACH THIS GENERATION FOR CHRIST. Instead of helping them, encouraging them, applauding their effort, and even learning from them so many choose to cling to traditions that are (at most) 200 years old (most are only 50 years old) pretending that these traditions are sanctioned and give by Christ Himself and anyone who doesn't follow them are not "conservative", they're "liberal".

I wonder if many of our church leaders who established many of these traditions were also viewed as liberal, or whatever curse word was give at the time (maybe heathen), and were under attack by other Christian establishments and outspoken individuals.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What Is A Missional Church? (more food for thought)

This is Ed Stetzer speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention 2007 Annual Meeting. He speaks rather powerfully about the change that MUST happen among Southern Baptist.

What Is A Missional Church? (a little extra)

My father-in-law posted on his blog some awesome thoughts that very much deals with this subject. Check out his post about being culturally relevant.

Also check out my brother-in-law's blog Practical Worship, which frequently contains missional-minded content.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What Is A Missional Church? (answered via video)

Are you missional? Is your church? Check out some of these answers via video. They don't contain all the answers but maybe it will get you thinking.

What is a missional church?:

So what does it mean to be a missional church? Watch this (it's a good bit longer):

Being missional is a mindset of the leadership which filters down to the congregation. It something that requires a great deal of transitioning. We're talking about changing the way people think, which is rarely easy. Watch this to get a "tip of the iceberg" understanding of what it means to have a missional mindset:

The idea of being missional, as a church, is something that burdens my heart. Anyone who has viewed my pattern of teaching (whether it was lessons to the youth, topics I taught in Sunday school, or sermons) over the past 3 years would see that. I don't have it figured out and I haven't discovered exactly what the journey would look like. . .but what about you?