Friday, August 26, 2011
What do you think?
Friday, January 9, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie):
Rocky Road Pecan Sandie (My gansta friends just call me r. sandie)
3. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal):
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born):
5. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink):
The Blue Diet Dr Pepper
6. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers):
7. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ):
8. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):
9. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower):
10. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + ie or y):
11. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):
12. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”):
The Cycling Lightning Tour
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
This is the next in a long anticipated series of my ministry memoirs!
I will never forget the time I started a Bible Study on cults. It was my first year of ministry and I desperately wanted the students to be motivated to come to our Wednesday night thing. I forgot what we called it. The only thing I can be sure of is that we didn't call it anything remotely related to X-treme. I have always hated youth ministry fads.
Well, if you want students to be interested in a Bible Study you had best be teaching on one of these topics. 1. SEX 2. SEX or 3. REVELATION. So, in light of that, I chose CULTS. I have never given in to the fleshly desire to please other people over God (and by that I mean that I often give in to the fleshly desire to please people over God). I figured that the students would really enjoy my (and by my I mean the Bible's) take on all things cultish. I mean, I am a fascinating guy with all kinds of insight and communication skills. These guys will be mesmerized by my soaring rhetoric.
And... they were. They really loved the Mormon study. They dug the Jehovah's Witness night. Things were really humming when we took on the precepts of the Unification Church.
Then came a Bible Study to remember.
I didn't know much about the Mason's. I just knew that the book I was studying had a chapter in it called "The Masonic Lodge". So, I prepared for my usual Wednesday Night X-TREME (jk) and got ready to wow the teens with another blockbuster revelation.
The air was thick with anticipation. I was a twenty year old amateur theologian with a cult-destroying chip on his shoulder. The students hurried in, their faces betraying the anticipation of a long three days sans the teachings of their spiritual sherpa. And I was ready. Thanks to Group Magazine I had a crowdbreaking game and some discussion starters. There was no light show, praise band, power point, or drama team. I was the show. And that was just fine with me. I had spent hour (the no "s" is on purpose, Jen Vestrand... it is to illustrate that my usual preparation time is best measured in minutes) preparing for this night. I knew more than the average guy about the evils of the Masonic Lodge. I ascended to the front of the room and books were opened (my notebook and the Bible), and another book was opened (the cult book). I started reading the chapter, my prose interpretation once again riveting in it's esoteric, almost mystical grasp of the text. I was launching into the third paragraph when I began to sense a rising tension in the room. At first I assumed, as I always did, that this was due to the admiration of my faithful disciples, once again put back on their heels by the power of my oratory.
And yet, something about this tension didn't feel... good.
For the first time since I began my "talk", I looked up at the teeming crowd of five who were staring at me with a combination of shock and contempt.
"My dad is a Mason!" growled one of the boys on the front row. "He says that I'm gonna be one too and there ain't nothin' wrong with bein' one... my dad is one."
And so it began.
It turned out all of them had intimate ties to the Lodge. I was sweating like a Clinton under oath. Things had gone all wrong. This study was supposed to get the students on my side. There was only one thing to do. PROCLAIM THE TRUTH! I would rescue these kids from the clutches of Masonry and deliver them to the Promised Land of Biblical Christianity!
We argued. We fought. I showed them how Masonry=Satanism and that their fathers and mothers were deceived. Finally, a break-through. Some of the girls were crying. I had achieved my objective. I had taken down a stronghold of deception that had gripped Oil City for decades. I felt like I was living the plot of This Present Darkness by Frank Perreti. I couldn't wait to tell my pastor!
The next day at 6:00 am. My pastor picked me up to go on some hospital visitation. We were a church of about 100 people and we could be doing hospital visits every day of the week and still not hit all of the patients from our congregation. I rushed to his Dodge Ram truck, eager to tell him of my spiritual conquest the night before. When the opportunity came, I began. "You know we've been studying cults, right?".
He said yes and asked, "How's it going?"
"Pretty good. The students are loving it and it is leading to some really good discussion of what they believe. But, man, last night was intense!"
"Really, tell me about it."
"First, what do you know about the Masons?"
This is when he choked on the cinnamon roll that he was eating. It wasn't like he was really choking... just trying to talk and swallow at the same time. I must confess, I wasn't ready for what followed.
"Well, first of all, I am a Mason."
This was going to be a long year.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
First of all, Robert and Susie, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
I also agree, Susie, that the church has much to apologize for.
That apology, however, should not turn into an ad for a particular church.
Plus, those things worth apologizing for: stupid jokes, elevating the sin of homosexual activity over other sins like pride, lies, bitterness, etc., the belief that those participating in homosexual activity are automatically lost sinners... all of those legitimate offenses are never mentioned in the billboard.
Instead, the apology is for people with a differing opinion on whether Gay marriage should be legal. And, the billboard characterizes those with differing opinions as judgmental, narrow-minded, and manipulative. What is ironic is that the billboard itself is all of the things that it accuses others of.
But, now to the elephant in the room. I don't believe there is a Constitutional right to gay marriage. According to the billboard, that would make me a totalitarian bent on taking rights away in the name of God.
I wonder if others might vote against the right of a man to marry multiple women? Would that be judgmental, narrow-minded, etc. Or, would it be a vote of conscience, a genuine voice of concern that marriage has to mean something.
Our church (LifePoint) has apologized to homosexuals for the wrong headed sinful way in which Christians have built barriers to the truth of Christ with arrogance and outright rejection. We openly welcome all into our church so that we all may align our lives to Christ.
Of course, another elephant, I also believe that homosexual activity is a sin. I think that a clear headed examination of scripture will reveal this to anyone without an agenda. I realize, that in the last few years, an attempt has been made to say these things:
1. Romans 1 is talking about loveless, lust-filled homosexual orgies.
2. The sin of Sodom was not being a good host.
3. The O.T. Laws pertaining to homosexual activity don't apply.
4. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality... (or rape, or pedophilia, or internet porn, or smoking crack)
I have examined these arguments. Believe me, it is important to get to the truth on this. My belief is that we are all born with certain temptations... and you can't choose your temptation. But, even though we all have an bent towards sin, that doesn't make the sin itself ok.
I read Jay's, the creative arts pastor of MissionGathering, testimony of having good friends wanting to not be gay anymore. "Please, make me not gay", was one of the statements.
Well, some believe that pedophilia is a sexual orientation. I don't know whether it is or not. I just know that the activity itself is sin. It is sin whether or not Jesus mentions it. It is sin whether or not Romans 1 is specifically addressing it.
So, how do you communicate these truths with grace? How do you, as I really do, love homosexuals and still hold these beliefs? I don't find it that difficult.
I love Jason. And Jason (gasp!) struggles with sin.
I love Robbie Rob Rob. And he is a fellow struggler.
I love my wife, Amy. She is a world class sinner. She would say the same about me!
The church's problem has been the elevation of homosexual activity above the sins that we deal with because it made us feel better about ourselves. It was wrong.
But calling sin ok... that would be a bigger wrong. One that I am too fearful of God to commit.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The billboard reads:
Mission Gathering Christian Church
For The Narrow-Minded, Judgmental, Deceptive, Manipulative
Actions Of Those Who
Took Away The Rights And Equality
Of So Many
In The Name Of God.
In case you don't know, the billboard is referencing the passage of Proposition 8 in California which defines marriage as something between a man and woman. It makes homosexual marriage illegal in California.
I guess my main thought is cynical. Why would I apologize for someone else’s action? It looks a whole lot like patting yourself on the back while stabbing a knife in the back of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
It seems as though the billboard itself is narrow minded, judgmental and above all manipulative (meaning the church is trying to manipulate public opinion and generate positive feelings for their particular church - not for Christ).
The billboard totally discounts the opinion of those who love homosexuals, want homosexuals to find (if they haven’t already) and follow Christ, and draw a distinction between equal rights and special rights. There can be disagreement without rancor. Unfortunately, this church - in trying to stop the attacks - launched one at other churches and believers.
This kind of generalization is wrong. To condemn the motives of those with whom you have a disagreement is not the way Christ would have his church behave.
But, I could be wrong. I've been wrong many times before... ask Amy.