This is a great typing game. Pretty intense. Check it out.
Qwerty Warriors

R.I.P. Cleo

We had a hard day today. We made the decision to put our dog, Cleo, to sleep. She had some pretty severe arthritis and was in constant pain without some pretty expensive medicine. We said our goodbye's and then left her with the vet. The kids were quite sad and started crying when we got home, which caused Jamie and I to break down as well.

Cleo was honestly one of the sweetest dogs I've ever been around. There wasn't a mean or aggressive bone in her fat body. She only needed a soft bed, a little food, and to be petted once in a while and that kept her content. She was about 8 years old. She'll be greatly missed.

Cleo, I pray you run just a little bit faster than the rabbits in heaven!


Happy Turkey Day!

I'm in Oklahoma with Jamie's family for the holiday. Dinner was great - leftovers were epic. I hope everyone is having a great day! I am most thankful for family, grace, and Sopranos on DVD. Peace in the Middle East!!!!!!!



I just got my butt kicked by the flu this week. I spent Tuesday afternoon through Friday morning in bed. I threw up more times than I can remember, high fever, sore throat, cough, achy muscles, ear ache, sinus stuff, you name it. I'm over the worst of it - just in time for a weekend youth retreat. I'm still weak and I have no voice, though. Hopefully next week will be better.


Fact or Crap

We had the teens from church over tonight. I bought a new game to play with them called Fact or Crap. It was actually pretty fun. Simple premise - a statement is read and you decide if it is a fact or if it's crap. They all seemed to enjoy it. I can't imagine very many other youth ministry moments in the history of youth ministry where the word "crap" was said so many times.


Sheep & Goats 2: Judgement Day!

To clarify further what I was saying in the previous post, I am not suggesting that our theology of salvation change. I'm not saying that people don't need to claim faith in Christ, repent of their sins, etc... But I believe Jesus was saying that if you don't live a life marked by physical acts of compassion for those who need it most, it won't matter if you've stated faith in Christ and repented of your sins. I think Jesus was saying that there will be some goats who thought they were sheep. They said all the right things, prayed all the right prayers, attended the right churches, and held the right positions, but there was no "legs" to their faith. It was all lip-service. If you say you love Jesus, but are ignoring "the least of these", you may be loving Jesus all the way to hell.

This is kind of a theme in Matthew. Not only does Jesus make a big deal about compassion, he makes a big deal about forgiveness. In Matthew 6 when Jesus gives us "The Lord's Prayer", he says, "and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In other words, "God, forgive me in the same way I forgive other people." Jesus knows he's said something confusing or shocking, so this is the only line of the prayer he explains after the prayer. He says, "You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. (MSG)" Matthew emphasizes this further by recounting Jesus parable of the unjust steward in Matthew 18. Jesus tells the story of a king who forgave the debt of a servant, only to throw the servant into prison and reinstate the debt when he found out that the servant had not himself been forgiving. Jesus follows up this parable by saying, "And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy. (MSG)" Jesus basically says your salvation can be taken away if you're unwilling to forgive someone.

To me, the teaching about compassion and the teaching about forgiveness teach us that saying the sinner's prayer does not mean God is "legally bound" to give you an eternal reward. We must follow that decision up with a Christ-like life. If compassion and forgiveness (which go hand-in-hand) are such a big deal to Jesus that he would threaten our eternity, I think it's a HUGE deal.

I realize this flies in the face of the biggest majority of evangelicals in this country who are Calvinist in their theology, and it goes against the trend of the last 30 years to preach that Jesus is all "love, love, love" and anybody who prays "the prayer" is going to heaven (no matter what their level of commitment), and some will say it borders on works salvation or whatever. But I believe there is more to faith than a singular prayer or decision. Our faith and our love for Christ demands that we give up our lives for Him and do everything possible to live like Him. Now your "everything possible" may look different than my "everything possible". We can't be judges of that. But we are all so guilty of selling what Dietrich Bonnhoeffer referred to as "cheap grace", or salvation with out life-change. This has to stop.

Sheep & Goats

I was reading Jesus teaching about judgement day in Matthew 25:31-46. He tells of this scenario when upon His return he'll divide all the people into two categories, left and right, like a shepherd does his sheep and goats.

The sheep will be declared "blessed" and be given the Kingdom. Jesus says the reason for this is because they fed Him, clothed Him, sheltered Him, visited Him, etc... The sheep ask how that's possible and Jesus says whenever you've done it to someone who was ignored or overlooked, you did it to me.

On the flip side, the goats get damnation because they never assisted anyone in need, and therefore ignored and overlooked Jesus.

Here's the thing I was thinking today. Jesus has this opportunity to explain Judgement Day and who will go to heaven or hell. And he makes the deciding factor compassion for the "least of these." He didn't say that the sheep were those who went to the alter and placed their faith in Him and said the sinners prayer after someone exlplained the four spiritual laws to them. He makes the deciding factor whether or not we live a life of compassion.

I'm not suggesting we change our theology on salvation, but it is interesting! I wonder if our view of grace is too narrow?


My Party of Choice

Christian people often ask me how I can be a Christian and a Democrat. I am a registered Democrat, but truth be told, I'm probably more of an Independent. I, like many of the newly elected members of Congress, am more of a conservative Democrat. I tend to be conservative on moral issues, but liberal on economic and social issues. However, I never vote "the party line". I vote my conscience and for the candidate/issue that will be best for our country. However, we need to realize that just because a man shares our morals, doesn't mean he will be a wise leader. I have a lot of really great, moral friends. But I don't know that I would vote for any of them for President.

I can't wait when the church doesn't align itself so closely with the Republican Party. There is a huge tendency to read Scripture into issues where Scripture is silent. We should have a higher regard for the Bible than to whore it out to our personal political agendas. The truth is that when measured against the Bible, both parties have issues that the Bible would support and reject. This song by Derek Webb sums it up best for me.

A King and a Kingdom
by Derek Webb

who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him

but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think


No further comment.


Funny "Christ-follower" Videos

Going right along with our recent 'disciple' discussions: these are links to a series of short videos from Community Christian Church. It's from their recent series titled "Christian No More". The videos are parodies of the Mac vs. PC commercials. Very clever! Check'em out!

Christian vs. Christ-follower 1
Christian vs. Christ-follower 2
Christian vs. Christ-follower 3
Christian vs. Christ-follower 4


Re: Perfect Church?

I just got back from a great small group meeting. Our topic tonight was discipleship and it got me to thinking about my "Perfect Church?" post several days ago. I stated that the church was failing miserably at discipleship. It occurred to me tonight that Jesus never called us to go make "Christians". He called us to go make disciples. Churches never measure number of disciples, only number of Christians. What's the difference? The difference is, "Christian", in our way of thinking, indicates someone who made a decision (a moment in time). "Disciple" indicates someone who is on a journey, actively following Christ. Alot of churches now are starting to steer away from the term Christian, and instead use the term Christ-follower. I like that. It's active - as our faith should be. Something like 85-90% of Americans, when polled, indicate that they are Christians. I guarantee the number would be much lower if they were asked if they were Christ-followers or disciples of Jesus Christ.

By the way, my small group rocks! We meet at this ultra-cool coffee house called Churchill's. Great food, great beverages, great discussion!


The Reason

Last week in my small group, we talked about worship outside the walls of the church. It reminded me of a hymn I wrote after the summer of 2004. During family vacation and youth group outings, I ended up spending time on the beach, in the redwoods, in the mountains under the stars, rafting a raging river, hiking a river bed to a waterfall, and more. It's one of my favorite summers of my life. Each one of these experiences brought me into the presence of God. This hymn was my response.

The Reason

O burning stars in darkest night
Filling the void with silent praise
On ancient truths you cast your light
Revealing One Whose name we raise

O rolling surf and golden sand
Your song still echoes in my ears
Your waves were calmed by the same man
I pray tonight will calm my fears

Majestic trees with arms raised high
You point me to His throne again
On one like you my Savior died
To pay the price for all my sin

My spirit longs to feel Your hand
Your Word tells me I’m not alone
One day I’ll leave this foreign land
And praise Your name in my true home


Hallelujah, hallelujah, o hallelujah
It’s the reason you created me
Hallelujah, hallelujah, o hallelujah
It’s the reason you created me