My blog has been up since May 9, 2006 (I can't believe it's over a year!). But I only started counting the hits 3 months ago. I just got my 1,000th visit in 3 months! My hit counter counts each day's unique hits. I'm glad everyone enjoys my ramblings and I hope you keep checking it out and telling your friends about it. The whole blog thing has actually been very therapeutic and fun.

Here's a link back to my very first posting (which is actually one of my personal favorites) called The Smell of Devotion.

Ark Almighty

Many of you have probably heard of the new movie coming this Summer, Evan Almighty. It's a sequel to the Jim Carrey film, Bruce Almighty. The film makers have teamed up with Youth Specialties to promote this film to churches. They intentionally hired a Christian director and avoided any sexual innuendo or rough language. They set up this web-based ministry called Ark Almighty. It's kind of a Christian Craig's List where people in your church and community can list needs and everybody also looks to see if they can help fill someone else's needs. On the Ark Almighty website there was a place to sign up to receive a free promotional kit.

Now usually when you get these promo kits, it's a large envelope or small box of junk that you may or may not use. I got my Ark Almighty kit yesterday and HOLY COW! The box was about the size of a guitar case! It included:

  • 4 tshirts

  • 4 baseball caps

  • 20 buttons

  • 200 bulletin inserts

  • 200 impact mailers

  • 1 instructional DVD

  • 1 four-week curriculum by YS - "Change the World...Every Chance We Get"

  • 1 book - Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren

  • 1 3'x8' banner

All this was FREE! You're limited to one per church, but if you're a pastor or youth pastor, you should go register to get one of these kits. I've decided to take my teens through the curriculum this summer and include a weekly Random Act of Kindness Day where we'll serve the community in some way.


This is What YouTube Was Made For

We have all sat through horrendous church musical performances and had to try as hard as we could not to laugh. Make up for lost time and let a big laugh out for this one. (Props to J. Riggs for bringing this to my attention.)


How (Not) To Speak of God

I just finished a book that will have me thinking for many months (years?) to come. It's called How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins. I picked it up because both Brian McLaren and Tony Jones recommended it. They are kind of the poster children for the Emergent Movement. McLaren and Jones both just raved about it and said that Rollins really pegged what the Emergent thing is all about.

Rollins' book is a combination of philosophy and theology and is a bit of a deep read. Like many books that deal with Emergent theology, I connect with a good portion of it and feel like they are really hitting on something that resonates within me. But then there are always a handful of statements that send up red flags, too. I think I tend to connect with Emergent practices (redifining HOW we do church), but not so much with Emergent theology (I don't think it's necessary to redefine our beliefs). However, the one point I do agree with Rollins on is that several hundred years of theology (man's attempt to define God) has probably left us with somewhat of a cold and inadaquate view of the Almighty and what it means to be Christian. Not that theology is completely fruitless, but for many it becomes the box in which we place God. By trying to define Him, we limit that which has no limits. We try to comprehend that which can never be fully comprehended. Our theology has a tendency to shrink God.

My biggest beef with this book is Rollins' tendency to make everyone's beliefs fit into the realm of a faith journey. If you are rejecting God, you're somehow on the same journey as the disciple. I understand why he believes that, but I also believe there needs to be a distinction between the Christ-follower and the world. There's also a tendency to allow people to interpret Scripture to fit their own lives, rather that interpreting their lives in light of the Scripture.

I would highly recommend this book. It will challenge you and inform you of how many people (though certainly not all, and probably not even most) in the Emergent Movement are viewing God and faith.


Note to My Unborn Child

Dear Unborn Child,

Please get out of my wife. I would like to have her back.



LOST: Season 3

We finally watched the season 3 finale of LOST last night. Honestly, Season 3 has been good and revealing, but not as intense as the previous two seasons. But holy crap...they made up for it in the 2-hr finale! It was really incredible and opened up so many new questions. I won't give any spoilers for those of you who aren't caught up. But I will say my absolute favorite thing was that Hurley was the big hero! He is so awesome. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - if they ever kill off Hurley, I may never watch TV again. If you have never watched this show, get the DVDs and watch them. Trust me, DVD is the best way to watch this show anyway.

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Idol Party

My youth group had an American Idol party at the pastor's house. We watched the whole 2-hr-long event, but they have Tivo so right at the beginning we paused it and ate for about 45 minutes before we started watching it. This made it kinda cool because once we started watching it we could fast-forward past all the commercials or any musical performances that bored us.

We got all the way to the end, Jordin and Blake are standing with Seacrest and he's getting ready to announce the winner. THE TIVO STOPPED!!! The whole room screamed and then moaned. We got to see everything except the big announcement! We had to get online to find out who won. Talk about anti-climactic!


Bribe Up a Child in the Way...

I did something with my daughter, Mollie (10 yrs old), last week that proved to be very effective. I actually got the idea from Ron Hunter at Randall House Publications. It's this whole idea of paying your kids to read books that you hope will be influential. Ron said that he pays his kids to read certain books that he thinks will be beneficial - books on faith, leadership, etc...

I thought this was a fantastic idea because I know in my own life that nothing shapes my thoughts like books. So I've been thinking of books that I want my kids to read. Most of them are currently over their heads, but I thought of a really great one that I was sure Mollie could handle. It's a short parable called The Boy Who Cried Abba by Brennan Manning. Since it's so brief and Mollie is such a good reader, I told her I'd give her $3 if she read the book. She loves to read so she didn't even have to think twice about it.

The best part was sitting and discussing this powerful story with my daughter. She totally got it! It's a beautiful story of a young Mexican boy who is rejected in every area of his life. He encounters a Medicine Man (Jesus) who helps him learn to love, forgive, and be loved. Mollie told me how sad she felt for Willie Juan and loved how the Medicine Man helped him not to hurt so much anymore. She completely got all the symbolism. It was awesome to sit and discuss things like human hurt, grace, and the love of God with my daughter.

I am definitely going to keep doing this as often as possible! Although I doubt I'll ever get off so cheap again.


Church Sign Generator

This is a fun website where you can create your own church sign messages. The possibilities are endless!
Seriously though, there are about a dozen churches in Lebanon that daily cause my blood to boil when I drive by their signs. Is there really some jerk out there writing ideas for church signs that intentionally make the lost feel like crap and church people seem smug? If I ever pastor a church with one of these signs, it will read:



Gas Prices

Holy cow! Most of the gas stations that I frequent here in Lebanon went up to $3.35/gallon today. So in these tough times I thought I would repost a link that I posted about a year ago. It's GAS PRICES AT MSN AUTOS. If you type in your zip code it will list all the stations in your area and their prices (low to high). You can pretty much search anywhere in the nation. It's really a great site and most stations update daily. My Dad will drive 10 miles out of his way to save 2 cents on gas. I don't go that far, but you'll see alot of time there's a 30-40 cent difference depending on where you live. It's just good info to have.

If it makes you feel any better, Jamie and I were paying about $8/gallon in Scotland. God bless America!


Levitical Law and the Inspiration of Scripture

My brother and I had a two-hour long phone conversation last night about the nature of Scripture. It started at the creation account and whether or not it was necessary to believe in a literal 6-day creation timeline. Many scholars believe the "days" aren't actual 24-hr days, but are actually longer periods of time that would allow for God to have created the universe using some form of evolution. Jason and I both agree that the Bible is referring to a literal 6-day creation, but I stated that I don't have a problem with the alternative theory because it really doesn't affect my faith if the world was created in 6 days or 6,000,000 years. Jason, however, takes the issue much more seriously. He thinks it brings into question the inerrancy of Scripture if you don't believe in a literal 6 days.

The conversation then moved to Levitical law. Now if you've ever read Leviticus you know that there are some pretty crazy things in there. For instance, when a woman was on her period she was declared unclean and had to live outside the camp for a certain period of time. There were also rules that declared a man unclean if he encountered, how shall I say it, "night emissions". Anyway, according to Leviticus these laws were passed from God to Moses. Now these hygiene-type laws are understandable when you consider that this more primitive culture didn't have the same knowledge of health and hygiene that we currently have. But God did. So if these laws came from God and he is all-knowing why would he make these people take seemingly unnecessary precautions? If these laws really came from God as Leviticus states, why aren't we still following them. God is unchanging, even though we're living under the new revelation of Christ now. It seems to me that a law from God himself would be pretty binding.

All this to ask, is it possible that some of the Levitical laws weren't actually from God, but just laws that the Israelites came up with on their own and lumped in with the ones that came directly from God?

I'm not saying I believe that. It's just one of those questions that keep me up at night if I think too hard about it. Let me know your thoughts on this (just for the sake of conversation).


They Like Jesus, but Not the Church

I just finished reading Dan Kimball's latest book entitled They Like Jesus, but Not the Church. Dan is the pastor of the Vintage Faith church in Santa Cruz, CA. It is a church that truly focuses on reaching the emerging generations. He has become kind of a poster-child for the Emerging Church discussion and I've had the privelege of attending some of his workshops at various conferences I've attended.

They Like Jesus is one of the most personally challenging books I've read in a while. Any church leader who is wondering where all the 20-somethings have gone should read this book. It's a real honest look at how the church needs to adjust it's assumptions of "how ministry is done" in the face of the onset of post-Christian America. One of the biggest adjustments I'll be making in my ministry is accepting his challenge to get out of the office and into the community more. I'm going to try to start working one day a week from a community location (coffee shop or something) so I can attempt to build relationships outside of the church. (See Chapter 2, "Why I Escaped the Church Office")

The meat of this book is Dan responding to the six biggest criticisms of the unchurched.

  1. The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
  2. The church is judgmental and negative.
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
  4. The church is homophobic.
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.

As Dan addresses how churches should respond to these criticism, he does so with gentleness and compassion without watering down the message or compromising the truth. I especially enjoyed reading the direct quotes from Dan's unchurched friends. They gave the book a great sense of balance. Read this book - it's great!



Jesus and Christians

I've been reading Dan Kimball's new book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church, and it's really good. I'll give a more thorough review of it when I finish it. But I found this video that a church in the Chicago area made along those lines. Very interesting.


Mark Driscoll

I know many people consider him contraversial, but Mark Driscoll is seriously one of my online mentors. I've learned so much through his sermons and online training. For those of you who don't know, Mark is the pastor of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is very conservative theologically but very progressive in his delivery and style.

This is a video he put together for a recent church planting conference. It was well-received by the attendees, but Bill Hybels voiced concern because it didn't discuss women church planters. The conference leaders were going to give a DVD copy to all of the attendees, but decided not to in order to keep the contraversy from going. It's good stuff, though. Here it is.


Spiderman 3

Spidey 3 was pretty good. I saw a midnight preview of it on Thursday night with my buddy Micah Derby (NOTE: If you're one of those people who thinks our missionaries shouldn't go to movies...I'm totally talking about a different Micah Derby.) I couldn't believe that the theater was packed at midnight on a Thursday night here in Lebanon. It was kinda cool to see. Overall, I thought it was good, but I do have some complaints.

It was definitely the weakest of the three movies. By the end of the movie, I was thinking that if Spidey cries one more time, I'm personally going to jump in to the screen and kick his butt. It was Spidey's time of the month or something. That said, it's still worth seeing.


File Under Disgusting

This is an actual product. Not a joke. Someone should get this for Jamie. Here's the actual discription from the website.
You put the
mouthpiece in your mouth, press the open end of the snot-collection chamber
against your kid's nostril (it doesn't go very far inside the nose), and SUCK.
It sounds disgusting and bizarre, but it works like a charm. If you've got a
snotty kid, it's the best $15 you'll ever spend.

I can think of at least a million better uses for $15!