My favorite part of The Voice

It’s at about the 50 second mark. Sixteen-year-old Jacquie Lee’s time is almost up and none of the super star judges have activated the switch to turn their chair around, signaling approval of Ms. Lee’s performance. If none of them turn, her journey will be over in less time than it takes to change classes at school.

Christina Aguilera’s hand hovers over the button.  Time is nearly gone as she finally pounces on her button, convincing Blake Shelton to rapidly follow suit. Both chairs spin around to a smiling young lady. She has been accepted. She has received the approval of people who could propel her into stardom. Continue reading

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A textbook display of redemption, and not by Christians

My sister-in-law, Sam, posted this a couple of days ago, and I’ve watched it a few times. It’s one of those things that I’ll add to my I-don’t-lose-my-man-card-for-tearing-up-at-this list (Yes, I actually have one of those). The fact that it’s a commercial tempers my reaction only slightly.

The people in this video went out of their way to make better an unjust situation for one neighbor.  Breaking down barriers is presented as the primary motivation.  They used their own time and effort to make a member of their community live like he would be able to live if a difficult thing – the loss of his hearing – hadn’t happened.  There is only so much he could do for himself.  The rest has to be done for him by someone else, and they did it knowing they wouldn’t receive compensation.

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The LGBT sentiment is godly, in a way

Choosing between God and Gay

 

I saw this posted on facebook yesterday and it has stuck with me.  The tone isn’t combative. The sentiment portrays a basic human need: to be accepted for who we are.

I’m not sure what rock I’ve been under, but this is the first I’ve heard of Vicky Beeching. From what I’ve learned about her from the internet, she seems like a lovely person who isn’t out to pick a fight. Her web site describes her: “. . . with warmth, humour, an ivy-league mind and striking honesty Vicky communicates a message of authenticity, challenge and self-development, much of which is drawn candidly from her own journey.”

In her interview with the BBC after the announcement about her sexuality, she noted that she stayed with the church because she thinks that disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean you can’t associate with them.

Wow, it looks like we’d get along swimmingly.

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Thanks, Humans of Youngstown

This fine young man goes to the school I sub at

This fine young man goes to the school where I sub

Youngstown has been a place with a bad reputation for many years. So it was great to learn about this group on facebook called Humans of Youngstown. The point of their page is to feature pictures of people who have been stopped on the streets of downtown Youngstown, OH, and who’ve been asked questions not about things like politics or the economy, but about themselves.

The reason I first looked was because I recognized this mug as a student – and friend – who I work with where I substitute teach in Youngstown. We were working on his snare drum skills just yesterday! Continue reading

A friendly reminder from Arnold

Put that Cookie Down (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

I was a little bored one evening last week and decided to play around with my phone notifications. The ringtone I set for my wife is Chris Farley singing “Fat guy in a little coat,” while he’s wearing David Spade’s jacket in the movie Tommy Boy.  One of our favorites.  It’s the text message notification I chose that got the better of me, though.

If you haven’t read the first chapter of my book that I posted on this site, let’s just say that cookies are a bad habit of mine (understatement!). I figured it would be cute to have the notification for receiving a text from Vanda on my phone as Arnold Schwarzenegger saying this. Continue reading

Some choose to be a Bi-vocational pastor. I’m softening on the idea.

Photo credit: Celestine Chua / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: Celestine Chua / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Who wants to go into a profession that will require you to have another job?  It means that you’ll have to be good enough in more than one area to make ends meet.  Working out vacation and other benefits is tricky too. Then, as a pastor, there’s the problem of fulfilling your obligation to your church community with half the time to do it in.

So when I heard a few years ago that some progressive pastors actually chose to be bi-vocational, it bugged me. First of all . . . what a luxury! I’m not a professional painter, successful salesman or someone else who has the capacity to earn what my family needs. Secondly, their point about how useful it would be to have pastors who work with people who don’t go to church made sense to me, and I felt a little guilty.

I’m not suggesting that every pastor should choose to be bi-vocational, but I’d like to share with you what happened last week that nudged me a bit further in this direction. Continue reading

Intricate un-faith

Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“People often have intricate and well-thought-out reasons for not believing, and we treat them with less than respect if we ignore this.”   

N.T. Wright (Outreach Magazine, Nov/Dec 2013, p. 100)

I wonder how often Christians are stopped in our evangelical tracks by an unbeliever who presents greater reasoning to reject Jesus than we do to follow him.  My guess is that it’s not that often.

It doesn’t happen much because it only takes one time experiencing that for a Christian to shy away from ever going through it again.  Instead of challenging someone else with changing their eternal course the conversation turns into us not having the answers.   Continue reading

Our new church on mission: Pre-prom for kids with Autism

I wasn’t thrilled with having to get a part-time job.  Vanda, my wife, reminded me that God uses our situations – even situations we might see as a bump in the road – to do amazing things.  And so he did.

My first assignment as a substitute teacher for Summit Academy was with the Autism Unit on the west side of Youngstown, OH.  There are always at least two teachers in a classroom, and since Kristen Dimas was on maternity leave for the first few weeks of the school year, I had a steady gig filling in for her and working with Michelle Walsh. Continue reading

Jesus was made perfect. So, he must have been less than perfect, right?

 

Photo credit: Jilles / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo credit: Jilles / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Short answer: yes.

Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest idea.  I introduced the question posed in the title of this post to the young adult Bible study at Evangel Baptist Church for one of the first studies I led for them.  The look on Brian Barth’s face – a young man who studies the word and is faithful to it – was priceless!  He didn’t know me yet and was deeply concerned that I was bringing some kook teaching into the lives of our young adults.  We can laugh about it now, right Brian (tee-hee)?

But, it’s a question that is valid.  Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Son though [Jesus] was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (NIV)”

Lest you think it’s a mistake, the Biblical author says it again in Hebrews 7:28, “For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV, too)” Continue reading

Garbage Can Greeting

Garbage Can GreetingOn our way back from men’s retreat last Saturday I got a text from Vanda telling me to avoid Route 224. It’s a major road that goes through Boardman, OH.  As we approached our house we witnessed a steady stream of traffic on the little side street our house is on.  That’s unusual for our neck of the woods.

But, that wasn’t the only thing different that we saw as Dan Lewis pulled into my driveway to drop me off. Emma, my 13-year-old, had made a sign using our garbage can and some pizza boxes. It read, “Have a nice day.”

I wonder how many people saw that and smiled? Okay, there may have been a few who thought it was some sort of taunting. I mean, we all know people who get their knickers in a twist (as my wife would say) just sitting in the driver’s seat as evil powers emanate from the steering wheel. If I know my fellow Ohioans, it’s a safe bet that a majority of them appreciated her sentiment. Continue reading