Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obesity in the church.

One of my friends, who shall be unnamed, remarked that Obesity is the ultimate sign that the church is not a community of welcome. Obesity demonstrates that we care more about ourselves and our own avaricious desires than we do about those people who are underfed.

As we near Thanksgiving, I've been mulling that over. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I exist to bring God the glory?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks ago when the worship leader said something like this,
The Psalms say that God can do anything He wants! And what he wants is for us to bring glory to his name!
Not going to lie when I heard this, I cringed. My first thought was, "if that's God then he's kinda a jerk!" I have interacted with this type of language before, so while it made me cringe it wasn't shocking. It's really the derived product of a guy named John Calvin. His basic theme is that God created the world for his own glory! In case you haven't picked this up yet, this thought is the core piece of Calvinism.

I don't think that Calvinism actually takes the Trinity seriously, because when thinking about God like this, glory really isn't part of the equation. The Church believes that at the core of the Trinity is love. A community of three, forever joined together in eternal self-denying community. The Father does not look to bring glory to himself, but showers it all on the Son. The Son is continually giving glory to the Father. The Spirit is glorifying the Father and the Son. The Triune God is eternally is a community in a loving dance of deflecting glory; not self-glorification.

Often we miss the context of the creation story. The dominant creation story of the ancient world detailed a world that was created out of a power struggle, violence, and bloodshed. In the shadow of our story we find a God who loves creating. The type of creation that he creates is one that does more creation! God is not about glory, he is about relationship and love! To be about glory is not very loving at all. Instead its self-serving. It treats others as objects with which I use (aka objectification of others or demeaning their person-hood). 

Now this does not mean that God does not receive glory, because God always receives glory. It is part of his nature. Kind of like I naturally do not receive glory for whatever I do, it naturally happens that way. I have to do something to receive glory. For God, he does nothing and is glorified - simply because he is worthy to receive all of the glory - and receives glory for everything he does. So God does not have to be intentional about glory. Nor would the world need to be intentional about glorification of God - because it is going to happen anyways. The issue is love.

At the core of God is love. The Biblical story shows a God who created the world out of an overflow and abundance of love. He created humanity as a relational creature, who without love, their life is meaningless. It is this through this lens that we should understand our purpose for existence. 

What do you think?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Is John Piper correct when he says that the purpose of humanity is to bring glory to God?

Friday, November 21, 2008

11.22.08 = Good vs. Evil

Confessing is a good thing, and I have a big confession to make: I hate Ohio. Not seriously, just I kind of get goose bumps when I enter the state, profanity enters my mind when see somebody wearing Ohio State apareal, I will never cheer for the Buckeyes regardless of the consequences, and I am never filled with more anger than when I watch an Ohio State football game. Ok, so maybe I have an issue or two that I need worked out.

How can I explain this anger, maybe that have to do with anger issues? No, I think I'm a pretty level headed guy. Maybe I am jealous of the rich tradition of winning? No Michigan has won more games, and the last time Ohio State won the National Champion Maurice Clarett scored the winning touchdown; so its not that. I don't know where my hatred comes from?

I remember growing up, Michigan players were made great by their heroics - Desmond dropping the Heisman pose, Brian Greese coming in and leading Michigan towards a win, Charles Woodson again dropping a Heisman pose. Ohio State was the next door neighbor that was annoying because he talked too much, but knew his place. Now Ohio State is in a pretty consistant place - getting hosed in the National Championship game by like 75 points. While Michigan is trying to establish a new identity (Don't think that bringing in Rich Rodriguez is the beginning of this, Michigan has been trying to do this for about 8 years now).

Tomorrow, when Michigan and Ohio State meet, nobody cares that OSU has been the better team this year. Nobody cares that Michigan just snapped the longest consequetive streak of winning season in the NCAA (a streak that goes back to the 60's), it broke it's streak of going to consequative bowls (since I was a baby), and the fact Michigan really didn't matter in the Big Ten championship race. It's freaking Michigan vs Ohio State you'd better strap your helmet on, all those things will go out the window!

And as much as I've been down on Rich Rodriguez, if he beat Ohio State I think I'll begin the process of accepting him. GO BLUE! in the mean time I'll just be watching these videos --> "Hail to the Victors" or the History of Michigan Football

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Social Networking Websites (aka what you're reading!)

Perhaps you've heard of the Social Networking websites: Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, or Blogspot?? If you have you have at least been introduced to Social Networking, if only in name. They are not to replace friendships, instead they function as a tool that allow friends to connect, connect deeper, and stay connected; depending on the development of the relationship. This is the purpose of these sites; nothing more, nothing less.

As a student training to be a pastor, tools like these present a gold mine of opportunities. The job of a pastor is to at some level, develop the community among the people of God. The process of spiritual growth happens within community - true growth never happens to the exclusion of community - thus pastors should spend more time developing community within the church. Why not look for tools we can use to form and shape the congregation around the person of Christ.

My friend JD, the chaplin here at Asbury, calls this redemption. This semester JD has been attempting to use the Social Networking site, Twitter, as a tool for developing community among the chapel interns. It has been a very good exercise for our team. The concept driving Twitter is the simply answering the question, "What are you doing?" The Twitterer answers this question in less than 140 characters and everybody who follows these Twitter updates is able to see what the Twitterer is doing. At some level what we do, impacts who we are. Thus to know what is happening in my life, you learn more of whom I am. Through the Twitter project our staff has developed a deeper sense of community, that we would not have developed with out this resource.

I am not saying that one must use Social Networking sites if you are a pastor, but I do believe as a pastor it is my responsibility to continue to push the envelope of what we're doing. Using new tools, and being creative with these tools in the process of the spiritual formation of the people placed in my care, is central to my duties as a pastor.

What do you think? How do you feel about these Social Networking sites?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Recently, I have become introduced to a band that I have known about, but never really listened to before. If you did infact read the title for this post, you know this to be Wilco.

I was introduced to them when they appeared on the Colbert Report a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that my friend Chad posted about it on his blog. And when I began to talk with him about the band, I realized he might be the man to shoot the lead singer one day-he's that big a fan.

I am presently working my way through absorbing their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which was highly recognized by Rolling Stone as an amazing album when it came out 6 or 7 years ago. It's a very interesting album, mixed with different sounds and textures. I was first hooked when I listened to the first song "I am trying to break your heart" and the album is continuing to fascinate me.

I am slowly working my way through other albums, but I'll go slowly because some of their older stuff (which I briefly previewed) is very country. I like it, just want to make sure that I don't get turned off by the "country vibe"

Have you heard of Wilco? If you have do you like them? Are there other bands out there that have a similar music style and sound that you would recommend? If you haven't listened to them you should definitely check them out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If a fly falls into the communion wine (or juice), does the fly become sanctified or does the juice become corrupted?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The post on November 3rd should have read something like this:

We've been married for a year!!!!!!!!

My beautiful wife, Stephanie, has officially made me the luckiest man in the history of the world! I can say that looking you in the eye, with a straight face because of the impact on my life she has had! I am truly a better person because of the time I have spent with her. She pushes me to be a better person, to challenge myself, and to connect at a deeper level with the world!

I have never done something that has required so much work & attention and at the same time quite as rewarding as the last year spent living with her! She is truly an amazing person, I can't wait for the next bazillion years we get to spend with each other!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What I'm learning about Teaching and Preaching pt. 1

Teaching is a two-way enterprise: the teacher and the student both must be engaged in order for learning to happen.

A teacher does not exist for his own benefit. This is the problem of tenured professors at colleges and seminaries. They loose the need to develop their teaching skills, instead they end up focusing on things that seem to interest them, and the classroom becomes second. Anyone who has spent a long period of time in classrooms has run across a professor who really doesn’t care about being in the class. And trust me it’s not a good experience. But if you’re like me you’ve been lucky enough to experience the joy of studying under a teacher who truly cares about the student’s progress in the subject being taught.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about teaching (This list could be longer, but I’m a busy person and could only think of 5 things off the top of my head to write.):

Interaction is key.
One should not equate interaction with question and answer. Interaction is when the student is actually forced to deal with the subject in a meaningful way. I have experienced this best in small groups, projects, & dialogue (once again not just students asking questions of the professor, but the professor asking questions that lead into a structured conversation).

Structure is paramount
The best classes are classes where the teacher has a highly structured understanding of how the class is to develop. This does not mean that the class is full of work, or that the teacher is not flexible. Instead I think this means that the teacher/professor has everything ordered and all the information is clearly communicated to the class before the class begins.

Multiple Short Papers and Open Book Exams
Especially in the upper level college and graduate classes the issue is not information but synthesis. Thus the goal of the professor is not to test one on information, but the integration of the information. This is best worked out in small projects that constantly force the student to deal with information. Also Exams and tests should be few and far in between. The goal is synthesis and a test deals with mastery of the material not synthesis.

Lecture is not the ideal
Unless the professor is an amazing communicator (and even then) a class made up entirely of lecture will be less than productive. The issue is one of information overload, attention span, and lack of interaction. A lecture ends up being a dry recantation of information that does not allow the student to absorb what they are hearing. Lectures should be kept short, should be limited to the basic information, and should create an atmosphere for dialogue between the professor and the student.

The Student will only care as much as the professor cares about them
Too often a professor can give off the vibe that they do not care about the student. When this happens the professor usually has lost the student. The rare occasion is when the student gets angry at the teacher and ends up working in order to spite the prof (a friend in High School actually got a 4.0 because he wanted to show up his teachers…but he’s by far the exception). If the professor wants his student to learn – which is the heart of teaching – they must take every opportunity to show the student that they care.

What are your responses to my thoughts? Would you add any other thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The United States is reportedly spending $1 Trillion per year according to Robert Higgs, on 'defense'. He reports this in an article posted last year. 

1 Trillion dollars!!! Let me show you just what that number looks like: 

And this is every year! That means in the next year we're going to spend another:

and the year after that
$1,000,000,000,000 get the point!

And we wonder why our country is in the economic situation that it is in; our government has spending an outrageous amount of money on "defense" (a.k.a. war) with no end in sight. 
  1. What would happen if we were to invest in making friends as opposed to fighting enemies? 
  2. What if we were to use this money in creative ways to help bring those in the world out of poverty? 
  3. What if we were to invest this money, as opposed to spending it on bullets and bombs that will blow up never to be used again? 
  4. What if we did anything this this money besides create a massive killing machine!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I blame the Christian Right: a sort of serious look at the failure of the Christian Right's culture war.

I blame the Christian Right for the downfall of American Culture.

The Christian Right, especially of late, has attempted to push their agenda not through political action. They have tried to force the government to create just laws and to put in politicians who share their viewpoints on issues – especially homosexuality and abortion. They have attempted to create a unified platform with a unified group of Christian voices ramming this platform into effect. Thus controlling the country through majority rule.

I support good laws and I wish that the government would always have good laws, but to say that making good laws is the point of our religion would be a mistake. The problem with laws is that someone can decide to change the law. If abortion is ever outlawed, they could at one point decide to change that decision, and we’ve wasted all our time in a fruitless enterprise. The issue is in the hearts of the people around us, not the laws that govern them.

Around 1920 Christians rose up and outlawed alchohol. They saw drinking was evil and spent years trying to get it outlawed. Did making booze illegal change the nation? Well actually it created an underground. Organized crime began to distribute bootlegged alcohol, making millions of dollars in the process. Twelve years into the Prohibition experiment, the law was rescinded and today the nation is no different. Making booze illegal only created an atmosphere that empowered evil. This is a prime example of legislating morality failing! But the Christian Right did not learn from this misstep.

Notice what Jesus tells his followers to do. He sends his followers out to make disciples. He does not call his followers to infiltrate government and create good laws. He says go preach the gospel; teach the nations what I have taught you. When the nations are people of God, good laws will be made. It is a natural thing to happen. When we end up trying to force people to live like a Christian, in many ways we’re not following the directions that Jesus set out for us.

NEVER in the Bible does God force anyone to follow him. Instead he calls people, he asks people. The way of Jesus and the way of the Kingdom of Heaven is not about coersion, but love. This is why Jesus goes to the poor. He loves the unloved. His love is what changes hearts, not his brute force. Why does he do this? Because when you use force, it fosters one of two responses – fight or flight. This is what’s happening today in our culture. The Christian Right has tried to force the world to act like it believes they should – and the world is fighting back.

This is why I blame the Christian Right…

Monday, November 10, 2008

Great Quote:

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." - Anne Lamott

Friday, November 07, 2008

Why Rush Limbaugh doesn't get it

Liberals and conservatives are two groups of people who use the same methodology, just different understandings of those methods to understand reality. They are the result of an understanding called foundationalism. This is the believe that our understandings of how the world is ordered must arise out of a foundational agent.

Simple and plain there are only two things that fit this model: experience or a text (something inside or something outside). So you'll see liberal Christians focus on doing good things. Conservatives focus on being Biblically oriented. Political conservatives argue that logic should drive our politics. Political liberals look to do things that are right, even if it isn't logical. Thus in my class my conservative church history professor sneers at liberals because they do not follow the Scriptures in their study. Liberal politicians argue that conservatives do not care about the poor. Liberal Christians argue that we need to live right. and Rush Limbaugh points out that liberals are idiots. It all makes sense!

I'm not saying that liberals are any better than people like Rush because they're not rude and they want to do good. I wouldn't say that at all. I'm simply trying to point out that people like Rush will never convince a liberal to stop being leftist...the liberals are judging the contest by a different set of rules! Until he understands this, he'll continue to only argue to the choir.
The issue for conversation is learning to see outside our point of view. Where are there differences what are the goals we are pursueing and how are we pursueing them. What are "the other's" goals and how are they pursueing them. When this happens then we'll be able to see change happen!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How Did People Respond?

I have a pretty wide range of friends. I know liberals & conservatives, Christians and non Christians, Democrats & Conservatives. Each of these groups overlap each other and present a very diverse viewpoint on major events. So I thought I'd share with you some of the responses that my friends posted as status updates either on their Facebook or Twitter. (I have removed the names to protect the innocent!)

Read through and tell me what you think!

  1. Smooth talkers win in single’s bars and politics…often with similar outcomes for the listener.
  2. Just found out that a Republican has not won the white house without a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket since 1928.
  3. I must not follow people who think Obama = Marx. Saves me from having to read negative end of the world updates! Christ is Lord!
  4. Good, bad or other it's over...thank God
  5. Just heard Geraldo Rivera claim that McCain lost because of Tina Fey. How awesome is that?
  6. Is new to this experience of not being disappointed after an election.
  7. Not sure why people want Hussein to be president, but thinks it will probably speed up the return of Christ
  8. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Romans 13:1.
  9. Very proud of the United States of America. As a man from Africa said, it took courage and a high level of morality.
  10. Excited for things to is good!
  11. Has a peace…God is still in control
  12. Loving this breezy fall day,the brilliant colors remind me of where Real HOPE for CHANGE lies.
  13. So excited about the CRAP salary that (this person)'s going to be getting an RN now....thanks future healthcare system....I appreciate it!!!
  14. At least (we) have family in Canada if things get too bad....
  15. Feels that there couldnt have been anything more American then getting a free donut in exchange for my vote this year.
  16. Thank god the election is over!!!
  17. Continues to pray for (this person's) country.
  18. Finally voted third party least my conscience is clear.
  19. In a state of mourning for our Nation.
  20. Shocked at how out of control some people are.
  21. Loves the "land of the free and the home of the brave.".
  22. Noticed that the sun came up this morning.
  23. Wondering how many people who left ignorant status updates on their profile went to the polls yesterday and voted??? Time for change....time for a new age!
  24. B.O. is in...and hearing stories about his skin color is a waste of time. Focus on the man, not his color!
  25. Glad Obama won The Final Endgame Go Time Alpha Action Lift-Off Decide-icidal Hungry Man's Extreme Raw Power Ultimate Voteslam Smackdown'08.

A quote from Tony Campolo:

Quoting Tony Campolo- "If there were no heaven and no hell, would you still follow Jesus?"

would you?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Opposite of Poverty?

"The opposite of poverty is not property. Rather, the opposite
of both wealth and property is community."
-Jurgen Moltmann

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some things Shane Claiborne said and my thoughts in repsonse

Things Shane Claiborne said and my thoughts in response.

1.) There is a difference between being pro-life and being pro birth. 
I am pro life. This means I disagree with abortion and murder and the death penalty and war. Being pro life means so much more than just being against abortion. It means giving the child a hope for the future.

2.) When the woman was brought to Jesus he got down and started digging in the dirt. I wonder what he was'Where's the man?' 
A day prior I was having a conversation with my friend Peg and she and I actually got to talking about this story. And Peg said those very words to me. Funny how we often miss the story. How often we use other people to argue our moral positions. When we do this, and we judge them, we actually do them harm. (Also, notice that when Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more, he's talking about judging people...not adultery.)

3.) (In response to being asked whether a Christian could be President) A man once asked Tertullian (a church father from the 2nd century) if he thought a Christian could be emperor. Tertullian responded, 'an Emperor could be a Christian if he ceased to be Emperor'
This made me laugh because I was talking with my friends JD and Tom Fuerst a couple of months ago and Tom made a similar statement. Maybe one day Tom will be a famous speaker traveling around the country preaching to churches, colleges, and seminaries!

4.) It is not enough to have good theology. and the response to bad theology is not NO theology instead the answer is good theology
I like these two points. Very interestingly Shane kept talking about how different statements were good theology or bad theology. Its a good thing to note that everything we do has a theological support holding it up. Our ethics come from our theology. I like that point.

5.) We read a prayer at the end of his time in chapel. At the end of the prayer we declared our allegiance to the Slaughtered Lamb. And to this I say AMEN!!!

Goodbye, No, and Long Live the Lamb!

I grew up an elephant, since then I've become disillusioned with their ideas and decided elephants are not the answer. I have flirted with donkeys, but have realized that they don't bring me any hope either!


I'm saying, Goodbye to the Elephant, no to the donkey, and LONG LIVE THE LAMB!!


A 'Little' Wesley for Election Day

"And first, I would ask, Where does this Christianity now exist? Where, I pray, do the Christians live? Which is the country, the inhabitants wherof are thus filled with the Holy Ghost? Are all of one heart and of one soul? Cannot suffer one among them to lack of any thing, but continually give to every man as he hath need? Who, one and all, have the love of God filling their hearts, and constraining them to love their neighbor as themselves? Who have all, ‘put on bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind, gentleness, long suffering?’ Who offend not in any kind, either by word or deed, against justice, mercy, or truth; but in every point do unto all men, as they would these should do unto them. With what propriety can we term any a Christian country, which does not answer this description? Why then, let us confess we have never yet seen a Christian country upon earth."

-John Wesley
Taken from the sermon titled “Scriptural Christianity

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Rise of Football!

Why is Football so popular? When talking about sports, some people like baseball, some basketball, a few like soccer, but everybody and their mom loves and watches football! So why is it that millions of people schedule their lives around this game every Sunday; September to February. I think it is because football is stereotypical American in every regard.

Baseball used to be America's pass-time, and in some ways it still is, but it's popularity is slowly waning. If you want proof of this only look as the playoffs are over shadowed by the beginning of the football season.  

There is an energy about football that all the other sports cannot match. Basketball sneaks up on most people, baseball's spring training is often a yawn, but football season starts with months of anticipation. Pre-season is even televised! What more sign do you need that people are excited about it, games that don't matter make it on TV! 

Here is why I think this is so 1.) television; 2.) hype; 3.) short attention span required; 4.) violence; & 5.) displays of toughness

  1. Football fits perfectly in the TV screen. I heard Larry King make this point a number of years ago. If you look at baseball it's hard to follow on a TV screen, as you can only see a limited portion of the game; you cannot see the defense switch in the outfield, the screen has to be split in order to see a player steal a base, you can't see the manager in the dugout. Football fits perfectly in the screen though. You can see the blitz coming, you can watch the players in motion, often you can see the coaches on the sideline. It's a perfect game to watch on TV
  2. Football is all about hype. There is a whole week to talk about big games. This allows analysts to spend hours day after day talking about match-ups, strategy, importance, and of course predict the consequences for winning or losing. In this build-up it seems that every part of the game is discussed and analyzed in preparation for the most important game of the year; this one! 
  3. Each play of an game lasts less than 10 seconds. For the average American this is how long we are conditioned to concentrate on anything. If you don't believe this watch an old TV show, it feels slow to you because the camera shots last a long time. Watch a TV show that has been recently filmed and count how long a particular camera shot is used. Usually the number is under 5 seconds (always under 10). Football plays on our inability to concentrate on something for a long period of time.
  4. Football centers itself around violence. The harder the hitting the more exciting the game is. There are replays on ESPN of the best hits, called JACKED UP! In this collection of replays the TV hosts play violent, bone jarring hits in slow motion over and over explaining how the victim of the hit 'got jacked up!' Not only are their highlights during pre game and post game shows, but there are also videos of "best hits." Fans can't get enough! 
  5. We not only expect our favorite players to be the most violent, but we also expect them to go out and perform under physical conditions that everybody else would be in the hospital for. Stories are told of players playing games on broken bones. Players who suffer concussions are pushed back onto the field risking severe brain damage. Walking off the field, even though one is barely able to stand up is seen as heroic. All in the name of toughness.

I am not making any statement about whether these qualities are good or not, they are merely observations. I'll let you do that! 

Why do you think that football is so popular? Do you agree with my observations or disagree?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Recently in an Interview in Relevant Magazine Rob Bell, teaching pastor from Mars Hill Bible Church (in Grand Rapids Michigan!), was asked this question:

What are some crucial changes that our churches need to make to become a Eucharist that is broken and poured out for the world?

He answered:
  1. Master the art of doubt. Faith needs it to survive.
  2. Surrender the compulsive need to constantly remind people that according to your worldview you're going to heaven forever when you die and they're going to burn in hell forever.
  3. Celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful wherever and whenever you find it regardless of the label it wears or the person it comes from or the place you found it. All things are yours.
  4. Remember that the tax collectors and prostitutes loved to feast with Jesus and the religious establishment gossiped about him and dissected his teachings and questioned his commitment to orthodoxy and eventually had him killed. There's a lesson for us there.

What do you think? Do you like these four responses?

For more check out the entire Relevant article (here)