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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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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Zach, the fish whisperer

A fish photobomb

A fishy photobomb

My intent was to get a picture of the bigger fish.  Zach, my 11 year-old, will have had that fish for two years this April. Goldfish are supposed to live like what, a few months? I’ve always thought that pet stores sell goldfish as bait or as a starter fish for kids interested in getting an aquarium. So, when we bought Zach this fish for fifty cents almost two years ago, we didn’t invest in gravel, plants or other fishy stuff. We didn’t think he’d last that long.

A few months later we bought the smaller fish because Zach was worried the first fish was lonely. They’ve been bowl mates for about a year and a half.

My wife and I can’t believe they are still alive. Zach doesn’t clean the bowl as often as he should, though it looks darker in the picture that it actually is because the room was dark. However, he never forgets to feed them each night. In the early days I would ask Zach at bedtime if he’d fed the fish. But, I could never remember their names so I’d just refer to them as famous duos in history. Zach stopped correcting me about a year ago.

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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

My M&M friend wanted to take a selfie. I had to help him.

Do you know what this is?

Photo credit: Dave Knickerbocker (as you could probably guess by the lack of quality)

This little guy looks pretty good for being around for so long.  He’s an M&M (duh) from the Christmas tree lights I insisted on buying. It was for our first Christmas tree after getting engaged over 17 years ago. He’s been through a lot. For the first couple years, at the end of the season I would meticulously re-insert green and the colorful friends from his light strip neighborhood into the plastic case they had come in. My hope was that they would remain in mint condition for years.

Then the kids started coming. When Jess got tall enough to be able to liberate them from their coniferous cage to live out the rest of their days with Barney and a few Disney princesses, I was forced to adjust. I reassigned the plastic candy that hadn’t been claimed by a Knickerbocker toddler to the top of our plastic tree. Also, with more kids came more decorations and more frustration packing and repacking them every year. It took several years, but eventually I resorted to winding them up like any other set of lights and tossing them in the box.

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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

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