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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Here’s how I got my best bowling score in years

Photo credit: Seth Tisue / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Seth Tisue / Foter / CC BY-SA

Okay, it was only a 135. But that’s a great score for me. And by the way, the sign above wasn’t my issue.

Village Church, the missional community my wife and I started with a few friends last year, chose to have a fun night last week for church. As an MC, not only can we do that sort of thing for church – we’re supposed to do it from time to time.

The first game we bowled I did predictably pathetic. I believe my score was 89. For some reason, I slice when I bowl. I’m right-handed, but the ball consistently cuts to the right and I don’t know why. Interestingly, when I golf (which I’m equally bad at) I almost never slice the ball.

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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

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

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

Photographer puts strangers together for photo

I’m definitely an Ohio boy.  Having lived in the New York City and Philadelphia areas, one of the things I like about being in the mid west is how much nicer people are to strangers.  Don’t get me wrong, people in New York and Philly can be very nice and mid-westerners can be rude.  But there’s so much crowding and rushing around back east that people are more short-tempered with strangers sharing in their frantic lifestyle, or at least they are less likely to be courteous to them.

That’s why this clip of Steve Hartman’s On The Road segment of CBS News was so interesting to me.  It reminds me of the WWI Christmas eve story where British and Germans who had been engaged in a treacherous trench warfare suddenly called an impromptu, temporary cease-fire. Their superiors heard about it and became indignant that the men cease the frivolities. Continue reading

Invisible Car Crash Prank

Cruel.  Just cruel. But fun to watch!

There were basically two kinds of reactions in this clip: those who looked first and those who ran and then looked.  The woman with the white jacket at the beginning stood still and looked for the accident as four people around her dove for cover.  But some people jumped for cover even when they didn’t know where the danger was coming from.  My favorite is the older gentlemen towards the end who keeps right on going, gently hurdling minor obstacles as he made his way a safe distance from the perceived disaster.

It’s an interesting example of how people react to danger that isn’t real, and I think it has New Year’s implications.

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Our church has a Dream Team

1992 Dream Team (source:edgemagazinesite.com)

1992 Dream Team (source:edgemagazinesite.com)

Jon Fowler, a friend of mine, posted a Bible verse on fb last week.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when people use social media as a marketing tool for their faith.  They slap on a bit of scripture even though there’s no evidence that the carefully typed testimonies match up with the rest of their lives.  But that’s not Jon! He’s the real deal.

There’s another reason that this particular update spoke to me, and it has something to do with a very different idea he’s involved in at our church. First, here’s what he wrote:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1, 2 NIV)

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Phat fourth-grader Theology

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

Zach enjoying a smore in our back yard

 “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15, NIV)

My son, Zach, is in fourth grade.  During the first week of school he brought home an assignment he had completed during school.  It was one of those get-to-know you things.

There were several sentences the teacher started that the kids had to finish however they wanted to.  I’ll bet she laughed a lot when she read them! Here’s some of what Zach had to say. The underlined parts are what he filled in: Continue reading