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?

Monday, October 1, 2007

What If Your Superhero Didn't Make The Cut? (Part Two)

. . .continued from Sept. 14th's blog. . .

So what would the real test look like? Would your favorite superhero make the cut? defined the qualities of a hero as these:
  • Sacrifice is the forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
  • Determination is a fixed intention or resolution; a firmness of purpose or resolve.
  • Loyalty is the feeling of allegiance or the act of binding oneself to a course of action.
  • Courage is that firmness of spirit and swell of soul which meets danger without fear.
  • Dedication is a selfless devotion; complete and whole hearted fidelity or the act of binding oneself to a course of action.
  • Intrepidity is firm, unshaken courage.
  • Valor is courage exhibited in war, and can not be applied to single combats.
  • Selfless is the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others and acting with less concern for yourself.
  • Conviction is a fixed or strong belief; a necessity of the mind or an unshakable belief.
  • Focused is the ability to direct one's energy toward a particular point or purpose; to concentrate one's energy.
  • Gallantry is adventurous courage, which courts danger with a high and cheerful spirit.
  • Perseverance is a persistent determination.
  • Fortitude has often been styled "passive courage," and consists in the habit of encountering danger and enduring pain with a steadfast and unbroken spirit.
  • Bravery is daring and impetuous courage, like that of one who has the reward continually in view, and displays his courage in daring acts
Sometimes I really hate being "Sunday school-ish" but think about this for a moment. Why is Jesus Christ not viewed as a hero by so many? I'm not talking about those who don't believe. Of course they wouldn't view him as a hero because they wouldn't agree that Jesus accomplish what He accomplished (or agree that He even existed). What about us who claim to believe? Why isn't Jesus our hero and why aren't we looking up to Him as someone to emulate and be like?

He gave his life for so many! He knew it had to be done and he saw it through until "it was finished". He did not turn from his course of action. He could have stopped the pain at any moment, but he knew it had to happen. He is fighting in a war against sin, which suffers billions of casualties. Look at how he lived, who he offended, and who he challenged.

Fearing They'll Leave

During my time in ministry, I think I may have obtained a reputation for running a few people out of the church.

An eleven year old boy overheard me talking with another adult concerning the origins of many traditions we do at Christmas (this was after I had given the youth a lesson on the origins of Halloween), and the discussion I was having with the adult concerning Santa Clause popped the little eleven year old's bubble. He finally learned the truth and mom and dad were so angry that they stopped coming to church regularly and the child was forbid from coming to youth group. Now, if the child had heard the same thing from their teacher at school do you think they would have pulled the kid out of school and started homeschooling them? Doubtful! Yet, somehow it's convenient for us to just leave the church.

Every person that I've "ran away" has been a case very similar to that one. Can you see where something just isn't quiet right there? How does a person in ministry dodge such things? How do we do the job of shepparding and avoid those kind of things from happening? Is it wise to teach ourselves to be more sensitive and give in more to their demands in order to avoid running people off?

Lately I've been hearing this one, "Fine! Well I just won't come to youth group anymore!" (or "Fine! I'll just leave and not come back!") That's one I frequently get when I say something, privately, to a youth (or their parent) about the disturbance they cause when they walk in 15-20 min. late; youth group is nearly halfway over and I'm roughly halfway into the lesson by that point (and of course I'm not talking about the first time visitor that may have gotten the time things start mixed up). Or sometimes I get that when I'm doing an illustration or game, that relates to the lesson, and it requires everyone in the room to participate, but there's some kid that doesn't want to do it. So the moment I even hint at them joining in with the rest of us they're quick to say, "no thanks, I'll just leave."

They're trying to drive into me the "fear that they'll leave" and "I have done something greatly wrong". This is a sentiment I have encountered since I've been a Christian. I've seen people doing it when I was in Campus Crusade for Christ (not to me but to the other leaders), the Presbyterian church I attended while in college, my church back in Louisburg, and the church I'm currently serving in. In fact, there's another church locally that just went through (and may still be going through) a major problem of the same kind, where a family that gives a significant amount of the church's income was threating to leave.

Now those of us who try to minister, whether we're pastors, elders, deacons, or members of the church, how are we supposed to handle this? Should we give in? Can you see how nasty and real of a problem this is for the Church, that so many are willing to leave for such trivial things.

You know what though, it's not really a problem. In fact, it's rather normal. It's what you get when you're working with a large number of people who aren't making a serious attempt to walk with Christ and are handed membership to a church. They're given their "God's membership card" and now they can make their list of demands, and if you don't meet their demands they'll pull out their arsenal of guilt and they'll rally the crowds to say how horrible of a person you are to run someone out of the church.

If we want to avoid this do we give in? Do we meet their demands? Absolutely not!!! To do so would rank right up there with giving in to the demands of terrorist. Bending in a direction that in the end only causes greater harm. Eventually they try to force something to not be taught, more entertainment and less meat, some activity to not happen, a lot of talk and so little action, some shifting of finances (away from where God's work can really be accomplished), something to not be spoken of, some absurd public apology that must be made, etc. The cancer begins to take root in the church and slowly spreads. Then they want the leadership to bow down to their whims; still using guilt, still using the crowd. And if the leadership agrees and gives in to their demands then they become part of the cancer and at that point, the cancer will spread more rapidly.

To be continued. . .