Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Non-violence in action:

This is a perfect example of non-violence. I was talking with my Senior pastor about the concept today, and he showed me this video. I love it!

Best line: "You don't have to kill me!"
[When I first heard that, I about when nuts! Its so good!]

To quote Martin Luther King Jr. "We will win you over with our ability to suffer." This is the heart of non-violence. In the end, the winner of this boxing match is Cool Hand Luke; even though he gets beat up nor in any way inflicted any sort of damage to the other boxer.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A message of Grace and Love

"To our most bitter opponents we say: 'Throw us in jail and we will still love
you. Bomb our houses and threaten our children and we will still love you. Beat
us and leave us half dead and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we
will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.' "
-Martin Luther King Jr.
"The American Dream"
July 4, 1965
[speech, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA]

Friday, December 18, 2009

How to respond to terrorists. pt.1

How do we respond to terrorists?

Well my first instinct is to look at the Bible. When we do this, we find that a significant character in the Biblical narrative was a terrorist. Who you may ask? Well the obvious answer is the Apostle Paul. He went from house to house arresting, beating, and killing Christians [we know at least Stephen]. These are the acts of a cold-blooded religious extremist/terrorist. If you know the story, this religious extremist converted to Christianity and became a prolific church planter/missionary/Apostle who just happened to write a ton of letters, some of which were included in the New Testament.

What would have happened if some of the earliest Christians had said, "What this guy is doing is evil, let's kill him!" What would the early church have become if a few Christians had got together and looked to kill Paul? Well, it for sure would look different.

What can we learn by thinking about the religious extremist/terrorist/Apostle named Paul?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thoughts on Football pt2: the spread offense

I have found most recently the development of the spread offense to be highly intriguing. Basically, for the past 100 years of football there has been 1 main philosophy: be bigger, stronger, and faster than your opponent. Until the past 25 years or so, every strategy included power as its main ingredient; even the West Coast Offense [The WCO was highly influential in the spread's beginnings, but there is still a difference in the two].

This has changed as of late. A new style of offense has developed very logically named the "Spread Offense" because it does just that. The basic idea of the spread is not to over power the other team, but to isolate one position on the football field and beat it with superior athleticism. Regardless of whether or not there is superior athleticism, the fact that the ball carrier is 1-on-1 and not 1-on-more than 1, is a significant upgrade.

Thus, the whole way offense is thought about has changed. Where before many teams aligned themselves close to the ball before the play started, now teams rely on spacing themselves out in a variety of positions. This spacing is the key to creating mismatches. Once teams are spread out thus creating the 1-on-1 match-ups, there are a variety of ways that teams can take.

Hopefully, a team utilizing the spread offense will find its quick players being guarded by bigger, slower defenders. Because of this, the spread is able to cover up deficiencies that a team may have. It is about individual skill in a 1-on-1 situation. Thus, allowing a less talented team to compete with superior talent. [in my opinion, more small high school football teams should use the spread as opposed to the old-school triple wing power running style. both offenses are attempting to mask the deficiencies of their school's talent pool; just IMHO, the spread is a much more effective strategy.]

The first main way to exploit the spread is with a quick passing attack. We see this in the NFL with the Patriots. Tom Brady usually works with 3 to 5 spread out Wide Receivers. His options are to 1.) look for a linebacker [a slower larger defensive player] matched up with a quicker, faster WR, 2.) throw a short pass [which is the equivalent of an old fashioned running play], or 3.) with all the WR's in movement [thus causing a defense to look for short passes] there might be one able to get open for a deep pass.

The second way to use the spread offense is a power running game. We see this used mostly by the Florida University Gators. They have a massive, brutish Quarterback named Tim Tebow who is more likely to plow over defenders than he is to avoid contact. Thus by spreading out the defense with fast players, causing the defense to spread out in order to defend against them, Tim is able to run against fewer & smaller defenders.

The third way that the spread can be used is a speed running game. This is used by teams like the University of Texas, the West Virginia University Mountaineers, and also the University of Michigan Wolverines. This is a strategy where because the other team is so spread out, the faster quicker quarterback, wide receivers, and running backs are able to use their speed to out maneuver the bigger, slower defensive linemen and linebackers. [often these teams decided to run one way or another simply by reacting to how one player on the field is attacking their offense.]

Already, we're seeing the effects the spread is having on the game of football, as every team in the higher levels of the game has included some elements of this into their gameplan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on Football pt1: coaching

[Editor's note: I'd like to take a few posts (possibly as many as 10) to spend some time talking about the game of football. For those of you who read this blog, and don't like football...sorry!]

I've said it a couple of times during the past week, "I think coaching/leadership is 3-fold: recruiting talent, teaching a philosophy/gameplan/strategy, & then motivating your talent to follow your philosophy/gameplan/strategy. Everything that a coach/leader does can be found within these three parts. I think this is exemplified most clearly on a football team. Interestingly enough, I read a Bobby Knight book where he said - when looking to develop his coaching philosophy - he actually talked with football coaches to get tips, learn what it meant to coach, and to develop habits for himself.

Football, more than any other sport, relies on good coaches. For the most part, other sports can overcome poor coaching; even then rarely. In these other sports, a star athlete can compensate for poor coaching, but football is the ultimate team sport. Because of the sheer size of a football team, it requires a leader who is organized, motivated, and passionate enough to form a group of players into 1 cohesive unit.

My friend Handyman Mitch works for NBC's camera crew during the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which gives him an interesting vantage point of the game. He was talking the other day about the difference between ND's [now former] coach Charlie Weis and Southern Cal's coach Pete Carroll.

Pete is the personification of energy during games; running up and down the sideline; high fiving his players; getting in players faces; constantly coaching, constantly cheering, constantly spreading energy to his players. On the other sideline, Charlie Weis would stand still with a massive laminated sheet that had all the plays. He'd stay pretty stationary on the sideline talking strategy with his coaching staff and players. Both coaches profoundly impacted their teams, and USC under Pete Carroll went undefeated against ND under Charlie Weis. I wonder why?

The head coach of a football team is the football team. Only in rare occasions does any other position on the team have a larger impact on the team than the head coach [the only such example I can think of is Peyton Manning and the Colts]. A team will mirror its coach. It is the pure truth. If you look at the great teams down through the ages, they all had great coaches leading them. There are 0 exceptions here.

Here are the characteristics I think that a head coach needs to have.
  1. Enthusiasm/Passion/Drive to succeed
  2. A strong understanding of who and what he wants his football team to be. And the ability to clearly articulate this understanding
  3. The ability to surround himself/herself with players that fit that understanding.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

World's Biggest Oxymoron:

The world's biggest oxymoron is a pro-life war supporter.

This person is one who believes that life is very precious and all life is worthy of a chance to come into this world, yet they also support using war [the world's #1 killer] to bring peace.

They are really just people who believe that all life is precious except the life that threatens theirs.

This to me is the definition of oxymoron.

There is a better way to bring about peace, one that supports and promotes life. A way that is loving. A way that is much more practical and pragmatic than war. It is the way of Jesus! It is a way that refuses to de-value any life [even the life that is wanting to take yours] yet also refuses to passively ignore injustice in the world.

It begins by valuing ALL life. It begins but realizing that there are underlining reasons why people would be willing to hate us [often its because of our actions] enough to want to kill us. It begins by not valuing your life more than that of your neighbor. It is a way that begins with the powerful humbling themselves to the lowest place possible [which is the Christmas story isn't it?!?!?] It begins with love.

It is the way of Jesus.

So let's be people who are Pro-life in every way we can imagine. Pro-life when it comes to abortion; supporting both the life of the unborn & and the mother who has no other place to go. Pro-life for those who are starving. Pro-life to those who throw away extra food. Pro-life for those who look to terrorize. Pro-life for those who wish to stand up for justice. Pro-life for those who are innocent. Pro-life for those who are guilty. Let's take a Pro-life stand towards everybody everywhere!

Let's let our Pro-life stand be so strong that peace would rule and reign on earth as it does in heaven. AMEN.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Advent doesn't = Christmas

First of all let's just clear something up...Advent is not Christmas.

Advent is the four week season of anticipation of Christmas; much like Lent is to Easter. As Christians we do this because Christmas [and Easter] is a very profound event. We celebrate this because Christmas is not something that should ever sneak up on us. Now, if you're an American, I'm sure you're thinking, "Christmas...sneak up on us? They start playing Christmas music in Wal-Mart 3-4 months out!" My response is, "Do you think what they're celebrating is Christmas?" [more on that in the next post]

A common way of thinking about Advent is twilight [not the vampire movie...]. Much as twilight is the time just before daylight, Advent is the time, just before the Light of the world has come amongst us; just before God fully reveals himself to the world; just before God puts all his money on the table. Twilight is a funny time of day just BEFORE actual light.

Last year, I was a part of a group, and to celebrate Advent, we got up really early in the morning, sat in the middle of a field, and worshiped together in the twilight. This is what we do the four weeks before Christmas, we're coming together to worship in the twilight before the full light is upon us.

A friend of mine [who just so happens to be a pastor] recently announced to his church that they were not going to sing any Christmas songs in their church until Christmas. His reasoning: "Christmas music celebrates the coming of Jesus, Advent is the seasoning preparing for Christmas" - two very different things. Instead, the church is singing, "Oh Come, Oh Come Immanuel."

Oh Immanuel, God with us, please come!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Peace through righteousness

[This is a re-posted piece...I thought it was pretty good and wanted to bring it out of the moth-balls. Enjoy]

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever (Isaiah 32:17)

If there is anything we have learned from the past is that unrighteousness only leads to more conflict and struggle. If you don't believe this think of Europe in the 1920's and 30's as the continent moved towards World War II. At the end of WWI, the victors placed all the blame, all the guilt, and the entire bill for the war unjustly upon the nation of Germany. This injustice led to Hitler's rise to power, the way that the German people so freely allowed Hitler to act as he pleased, and to the death of literally millions in the 7 years of between 1939 and 1945.

In his letters from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King notes that even when those who are looking to fight injustice through non-violent means break they law, they must accept the penalty for their crimes; lest more injustice break out. This is something that Christians throughout the ages have realized. For if there is to be peace, it must come through righteous means.

How do we as Christians respond to Gitmo? To Israel's strangulation of the Gaza? To responding to 9/11 by going to war? Are these actions righteous? Do we expect these actions to really bring peace to our country and the world?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

How Christmas threw the world upside down

I recently have been thinking how we're all about success, winning, & being #1. We like to talk about being the best, championships, & top dogs. Its everywhere and in everything. We all are looking to live a perfect life, have a perfect family, looking to overcome the problems in our life.

I think this ironic, because as I read about Jesus, he was about failure. Failed Messiahs were crucified. Honorable people aren't born to parents out of wedlock. A king rides a majestic horse into a city; not a donkey. What kind of person hangs out with the traitors, losers, and prostitutes? Great men are born in regal palaces located in important cities, not tiny shacks in out-of-the-way little villages. Jesus' life is about failure, not success.

The Christmas story is a backwards story. The promised one has been born, yet the first people to greet him are shepherds who have tending to their sheep as they gave brith and probably have dirty and bloody hands. Even the Magi who came to find Jesus went to the wrong place, surely this important King would be born in a place of opulence and wealth; not to a common laborer under questionable circumstances. Its almost comical to think about Jesus' birth.

The trajectory of this story is one of a downward slope. Its one that rejects the mindset of success. The story of Jesus' birth is the first in many steps looking to challenge the very way we understand the world to be oriented. In the ways we understand the world to work, Jesus was a failure. If you have the mindset of success, Jesus' birth should be offensive to you.

If you actually think about it, you would look at Jesus and say, this is not the way it should happen. You should expect God to be the strongest and most powerful person in the room...not a helpless, illegitimate baby born to a couple of peasants.

How can we change the way we understand the world? How can we follow our lord and savior and become a pack of losers? Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Prayer is a time waster.

[Editor's Note: This concept is one of the hardest for me to live out. I constantly look at myself and say, "You need to be more like that!" So please don't feel as if I am the perfect one when it comes to prayer, it is something that I am working on in my life as well.]

At some level I believe that prayer is a time waster. Bare with me on this, I believe that prayer is of the utmost importance in the life of a Christian, that ones spiritual health is tied into ones prayer life. But prayer is a time waster. Here’s what I mean:

We spend all kinds of energy looking to solve the problems in our life. Marriage problems? Well let’s read this book. Let’s go to counseling. Let’s spend time together talking about our personal differences, reminiscing about the good times, and rekindling our love. Financial problems? Let’s make a budget. Let’s cut back on our spending. Let’s attempt to make our residence a bit more energy efficient. Hopefully you get my point, when we come to problems we look to do, do, do in an attempt to solve our problems. We like to think we can take care of our own problems, but reality is – you can’t do this.

A quick look at the amount of people on blood pressure pills should help us to see this...

Let’s think about tithe. For most people in the world, the concept of first giving away 10% of their income means that money will be really tight in their homes. We usually think we’ll need 100% of what we have to be able to get ends to meet. One way of looking at tithe is that it is God’s way of saying, “I can do more with 90% than you can do with 100%.” The whole point of tithe is for God to help us see that He is our provider! If we trust in God, He will provide for us. After all, don’t the lilies and sparrows have what they need?

God is asking you, in your life, to do the same thing with your time. There is always more than enough to do that will fill up a 24-hour cycle; more than enough activity to keep us occupied, busy, and stressed. As human beings we are like a hive of caffeinated bees…always running around here and there, endlessly busy. Yet God asks that we slow ourselves down – waste some of our precious time – in order to connect with him, to ask him for guidance, wisdom, support, and a way through the craziness of our life.

If God can do more with 90% of our wealth than we can do with 100%, think of how much more can he do with 23 hours than we can do with 24.

So God is asking you to waste some of our precious time; to slow down, to stop solving your problems, and come to Him. He knows that we are - like lemmings [in how we want to solve our own problems], we'll keep going until we fall right over the edge. So he asks us to trust him, to stop, to waste time and talk with him, confess to him, confide in him, and listen to him.

Let's go waste some time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Great Quote:

This quote is from the Dark Master himself, Mr. Woody Hayes in 1968:
When asked why he went for two despite a 36-point lead against Michigan, Hayes quipped, "Because I couldn't go for three."
[Just another reason why the University of Michigan-Ohio State University rivalry is the best college football rivalry in the country.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Great Quote:

"Biblical Egypt is a symbol for a society that has no standard but a bent sense of its own importance, no values but those of profit, no understanding of strength unless it is violent."

-Johanna W.H. van Wijk-Bos
"Making Wise the Simple: The Torah in Christian Faith and Practice"

HT-Tim Founds
[via Twitter: tfounds]]

Great Quote:

[The question here is not of political ideology, but why somebody would be accused of being a communist for simply asking why people are suffering? Perhaps the real issue is that people are translating the actions of a Christian through political and economic lenses.]

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

-Archbishop Dom Helder Camara

Monday, November 09, 2009

Who is blessed?

who are the people we think of as blessed?

well we like the people who have it all togeather. the people who are on time. those who show up. the group of people that dress well, that shower, or that have cool hair cuts. We like to bless the people with the best argument, the ones who pay their bills on time. The innovative, the creative, the front runners all get our praise. We're crazy about the people who are the best!

Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by pronouncing another type of person as the blessed: the poor in spirit [aka losers], those who mourn, the meek [shy, introverted people], thos who hunger and thirst for righteouness [not power, wealth, & fame], the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, & those persecuted for righteousness. It is these people who God considers blessed.

Its not the people who have it all together, the leaders of industry, the people who are in, cool, or famous. Its the quiet, the meek, the bottom dwellers of our social circles. Blessed people aren't the celebrities, its the anti-celebrity who lives in your neighborhood.
Blessed is the single mom who is working her fingers off trying to support her family.
Blessed is the person who has no clout in politics.
Blessed is the man who can't find work.
Blessed is the social awkward person.
Blessed is the family who can't make their rent.
Blessed is the person who thinks its wrong that the above mentioned family can't make their rent and does something about it.
Blessed is the person who instead of adding on to their house, buying a new car, or taking a vacation, shares what the have with the single mom working herself to death.

Blessed are you when you realize just what the Kingdom of Heaven is about.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

That's nice, but I'm a realist.

Perhaps you've heard somebody say this: "that's nice, but I'm a realist." What they're really saying is that death is winning; in the end the world is still governed by the powers of darkness. Their mindset is pessimistic. A pessimist views reality in a negative light. An optimist views reality in a positive light. Therefore, when somebody says, "I'm a realist" they're really saying that their world-view is dominated by the negative.

Christians who are pessimists, cannot take the resurrection very seriously; the resurrection is all about hope [after all, death has been defeated]. Constantly in the New Testament we see references to a new humanity, a new creation, a world now governed by the hopefulness of the resurrection. We see this in John 20. The author says, "One the first day of the week..." This is not just a comment about which day of the week it is, this is a conversation about creation. The author is hinting back to the first week of creation, a creation that was governed by sin and death, but this is now the first day of the new week [and a new creation]. The world is not the same, the resurrection has changed everything.

I love Daniel chapter 7. This chapter is written to post destruction of Jerusalem Jewish people. Their best years as a nation are now behind them. They have been defeated, their independence stripped from them, and now they are lorded over by people who are not concerned with Yahweh. The world is now being ruled by the great empires of the ancient world -Bayblon, Persia, Alexander the Great & his legions, and Rome- and Israel is merely a pawn in their real life game of Risk. This is the people who are God's chosen. They have been called the Sons of God, trusted with the very words of YHWH given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and a part of God's healing and restoration of the world. Yet now they're just a very small province in the corner of a very large Empire. Is Yahweh still in control? Daniel chapter 7 is written with this question in mind.

Daniel sees a vision of these massive beasts roaming around this plain; each bigger, each stronger. These beasts roamed this plain destroying everything in sight. Daniel feels nothing and nobody can stop these massive beasts! In the heavens, the Ancient of Days sits watching all this unfold from his throne in heaven. Yet suddenly one who appears to be a son of man appears in the clouds, and he is given authority over the beasts. Not only is he able to rule over these beasts, but we don't even get a record of a battle; he just wins! To a people subjugated, this is would be a story of hope! The rulers of the world only appear to have power and authority, there is one sitting in heaven who really is ruling the world. This is a message of hope; this is a story that would force somebody to be an optimist.

Now there are tons of pessimistic people out there who look at the world in a negative light; the world is falling apart; good is on the way out; the cup is half empty. But to them I like to say, "That's nice, but I'm a realist!"

Long live the Lamb that was slain!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Peter Rollin's Twitter Parable:

Peter Rollins is now on Twitter [his twitter page here]. He has recently begun Tweeting Parables 140 characters at a time. Here's his first Parable. Each paragraph is an individual tweet. Check it out!

There was once a poor and compassionate woman who lived in one of the world’s largest cities

She was a kind and tender lady who laboured tirelessly with the unloved and unwanted

She was also a skilled painter and would subsidise her work by sketching portraits of wealthy tourists in their fine robes

At night she would chat with strangers in the local tavern or relax with friends in her modest home at the edge of the city

Her life continued in this way for many years, however, on her thirtieth birthday she made an incredible discovery

She found that she had been miraculously bestowed with an astonishing gift

For no apparent reason she could now perform supernatural feats of the sort she had only heard of in the fables of old

One word from her lips could generate breathtaking wealth and a mere thought could turn her dwelling into a golden palace

People would travel thousands of miles just to sit in her presence, watch what she could do and learn from her

Soon even those in power began to take note of this miracle worker, and where awed by her immense power

Her divine gift captivated everyone she met and caused many to revere her as a god

Yet, throughout her entire life, not one person ever learned of her supernatural powers; for never once did she use them

She could have taken herself out of poverty in an instant or gained any possession in the blink of an eye

Yet she had no desire to do so for she already loved her life and saw it as already infused with overwhelming beauty

People were in awe of her because she was able to love without limit, forgive without reserve and live without fear

The rich where so poor that they longed to be in the presence of one who could live meaningfully in a world that seemed devoid of meaning.

To them she was nothing less than a living testimony that life before death was possible.

This woman’s very existence was her miracle and her example was her divine gift to humanity… The End

Sunday, November 01, 2009

What happened to UofM's season?

Famed football player, coach, & announcer John Madden [made famous coaching, more famous for his broadcasting, and uber famous for his video game] was the long time coach of the Raiders. While working for the Raiders he famously argued with Al Davis [the overbearing, clueless, & not football savy owner] about how to develop and organize a football team. Madden argued that it was the offensive line, Davis promoted the secondary.

IMHO I believe Madden is right, every winning football team you'll ever find will ALWAYS have a solid offensive line; sometimes they have a good secondary. They offensive line is the group of players designated with the tasks of protecting the Quarterback when he throws the ball, and to block defenders when the running back runs the ball. A solid, healthy offensive line allows an offense the ability to make long drives, hold the ball, and tire the other teams D. If you don't do those things, I guarentee that your football team is bad. [I grew up cheering for the Lions...I know what I'm talking about here.]

I say all this because the University of MICHIGAN football has gone through a couple rough years and has been historically poor [3-9], yet the start of this season came with great hope! They started with a win against Western Michigan and in week 2 defeated Notre Dame in a game that featured an exciting finish. Needless to say, MGoBlue nation was pumped as a season we all thought was going to be more of the same, suddenly was infused with hope; we could be good! The week after the ND game, David Molk UofM's starting center [the core of the line] broke his foot. Ever since that injury, Michigan's season has gone down hill. Now there are other factors, but the key factor has been the fact that they have not had the protection and stability of a solid offensive line to lead their attack. Never has John Madden's insight been more useful in attempting to understand why MICHIGAN's team has fallen apart, the glue, the Offensive Line has crumbled.

I understand that its MICHIGAN and one player getting hurt shouldn't destroy the entire season, but center is a pretty important position. I'm not panicing and saying we need to get a new coach, I just think that they're a young team without much depth. I'm excited about the progress I saw in the first 3 games of the season, and think that those Buckeyes should be scared of the "team from up north."

Get ready to hear this song all day long!


Thursday, October 29, 2009


[ Do we use the Bible to justify how we view the world,
or do we let the Bible shape the way we view the world? ]
What do you think?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Verse(s) of the Day:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

- Romans 8:5-6

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Quote:

Our core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things but we are not passionate enough about good things.
~ L. Crabb.
HT: Alan Hirsch
[via: Twitter]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Who is my neighbor?

We've been talking about neighbors with the students at the church for the past few weeks. Its, for me, been an interesting conversation to think about as I've been preparing for our time together.

We started this month by looking at the passage commonly known as the story about the Good Samaritan [Luke 10]. The point we made that night, is this is not a story condemning the priest and the Levite; in this story Jesus is answering the question asked by an expert in the Law: "Who is my neighbor?" So the story is looking to get this expert to see that the Samaritan is his neighbor. Now what we don't see in our American world, is who the Samaritans were to the 1st century Jews.

To a Jew at this time, the Samaritans were not well liked people. There is record in many ancient histories that, they committed acts of terrorism in the temple of Jerusalem [i.e. scattering pig bones in the temple]. We see in the book of Nehemiah that they did everything they possibly could to destroy the Jews [so they're arch-enemies]. We read in the Gospels, the way that they dispute the Jewish claims about religion [so this has an element of a holy war] We also read in the Gospels the ways that the Jews would go out of their way to avoid all contact with the Samaritans [so they ditest each other so much they won't even have contact with each other]. So if we were to create a 21st century counterpart to the 1st century Samaritan it would be the essense of the enemies of our country [a Taliban/Nazi/Communist].

The question he is asked is really somebody wanting to clarify who they should feel obligated to love. Jesus responds with the most ridiculous possible possibility: the Samaritan. If you read the story, you'll see at the end, that this expert in the Law cannot even say "Samaritan." His response is "the one who showed love." He hates the Samaritans so much that he refuses to even say the word, "Samaritan." When asked who we're responsible to love, Jesus says: "even the one who hates you and wants to see you dead, that's who you're supposed to love."

Let's look at this at two levels:

  • personal: who do you need to see as your neighbor personally? Who is your enemy? Who do you hate? Who do you find it hard to love?
  • global: who is does our country see as our neighbors? Who is our enemy? Who do we hate? Who do we find it hard to love?

So the question today is: Who is your neighbor?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Verse of the Day:

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
[I John 4.7-12]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great Quote:

[You can murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder.]

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Great Quote:

Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man has a right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his ruler has quarrel with mine, although I have none with him?
~Blaise Pascal


Question of the day:
[If a fly lands in the communion cup: is the fly made holy; or is the communion wine/juice tarnished?]

Why ask this question: [here]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why get up on a Sunday?

If I had to pick a day & time to have a church service, Sunday AM would not be my first choice; I'd prolly go with Thursday night. I mean, sleeping in on a Sunday morning is amazing! [there's no mystery to why so many people do it: its pretty sweet!] Of all the times and all the day, why would Christians have picked Sunday morning as a time/day to gather together? Didn't they know sleeping in on a Sunday morning is as close to heaven as some people will ever get? perhaps you know what I'm talking about?!? [when we lived in Kentucky, we attended a church that had a Saturday night service, it was awesome!]

So why Sunday? Christians talk about the Sabbath, but let's just clear something up: the Sabbath is Friday at sun-down to Saturday at sun-down. Christians gathering on Sunday has very little if nothing to do with the Jewish Sabbath. Its a completely different day. Sorry, but we don't meet on Sunday because of Sabbath.

If you read the book of John, you'll notice that John makes a small note about the specific day that Jesus is raised: he calls it, "the first day of the week." Its a very powerful metaphor [think the first week in Genesis 1; John's book is LOADED with imagery. Its so brilliant]. You see in the 1st century Jewish mind, Sunday was the first day of the week; its much like Monday is for us today. There was no concept of a weekend, Sunday was the beginning of a work week. When John says that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, he's making a statement about a new start. This event has begun a new reality, a new world, a new order is among us. He was the first to emobdy CHANGE you can believe in.

This is one of the earliest understandings of salvation, a whole new order to creation. In this reality, Christ is the center of the world. This new week is no longer ordered by the old way, but by the reality of Jesus' death and resurrection. Life not death has won. No longer must we live stuck in our evil ways. No longer is death in the lead, no! life has won. It is this reality that Christians would gather to celebrate [this is why the would begin their gatherings with the greeting, "He is Risen!"]

Now the earliest Christians would have had to work on Sunday - there was not a nice 2day weekend. If you were a Jew you took 1 day [the Friday night to Saturday night Sabbath] then you went back to work, and the Romans didn't have such a day. They still had to work on Sundays. So they would get up early, before they went to work, to worship the new reality: DEATH is dead, and Jesus Christ is alive! They met, as we do, to celebrate the beginning of a new week.

Why do we meet on Sunday mornings? Because its the first of the new week. Its a tangible [touchable/observable] image of who we are as Christians. Because of this, we wake up and celebrate, because a new week is upon us and death is dead.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Quote from Christopher Columbus

How should we respond to this quote?

"In all the world, there is no better people nor better country. They (native americans) love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and are always laughing ....They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." - Christopher Columbus

HT - Adam Strauser

Friday, October 09, 2009

Great Video: Rob Bell/Shane Hipps

I saw Shane this summer at a conference in GRAND RAPIDS, MI [the epicenter of progressive culture in the world] and thought he was absolutely awesome! I'm dying to read his book [you could buy me a copy if you're interested], and its on my wish list. [If reading this on facebook click on this link: http://thelegendofdanbellinger.blogspot.com ]

Rob Bell Interviews Shane Hipps About Technology from Deadly Viper on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Has Halloween Become Overcommercialized?

Great Quote:

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.~Albert Camus

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Definition of church:

Here is how I would define what it means to be a church:
A revolutionary/subversive/underground community of people looking to unmask the kingdoms that are all around them as counterfeit, insisting that another, invisible/intangible/untouchable Kingdom [aka the Kingdom of God/Heaven] is real, and living in the reality of this Kingdom in the midst of the counterfeit kingdoms.

Jesus as Master:

For years and years Christians have begun talking about salvation in terms of friendship/relationship [as in 'having a personal relationship with Jesus']. We sing songs about being friends with God. We like this, because there is something inside us that wants to have a relationship with God; we're created in the image of the One who is community/relationship [Father, Son, Holy Spirit]. So while this has connected with something deep inside us, it is not the entire picture.

The problem with merely defining salvation as a personal relationship with God is that it does not leave space to talk about how we live. Personal relationships are all about connecting; they're friendships. If I have a personal relationship with God, it does not mean that I need to live my life any differently than if I did not have a personal relationship. God is not looking JUST to connect with us, he wants to change the very way we see/relate to/understand the world.

If we read the New Testament, we see that God is interested in Lordship. God is interested in how we live; actions, thoughts, & desires.

It is easy for Christians who see salvation as "Personal Relationship" to talk against lust, murder, & hate as sin; the Bible specifically says so. But this view of salvation has a hard time dealing with passages that deal with money - of course friends don't really tell each other how to spend their money [that's just not polite]. Yet, we see that in the New Testament, this seems to be a major point of conversation for the earliest Christians. God, through Jesus, is not just looking to restore a personal relationship with us; he is looking to become our Lord/Master/King.

What does it mean to have Christ as our master? Well it means he controls the way we live our life. He governs the way we think, plan, pray, dream, spend, & see. He wants to shape and form the way that see our neighbor, the way we respond to stress, and how we believe the world is being made better.

[I'd like to talk in the next few posts about ways Jesus is looking to become our Master/Lord/King]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on using the generic term "God"

To read the long version (read: better/richer/deeper/far more compelling) click here Otherwise, enjoy!

In my endless pursuit of pondering about how to be effective in communicating the message, I've realized that when I speak about God [using the generic term God], many people's eyes sort of glaze over. Not like an actual glazed doughnut, but more like the person who is on the 117th time watching a Scrubs episode. It's made me realize that having a conversation about God [using the generic name God] is rather boring. [Hear me out on this.]

Perhaps its just me, or 21st century culture, but God [using the generic name God] doesn't have much street cred. I mean I work with students, and while I'm teaching to students I see a glaze come over their eyes when I begin to talk about God [using the generic name God]. Yet I can't fault them, cause I (let's be honest) you do too. I mean God [using the generic term God] isn't really that interesting.

Honestly, I think that makes perfect sense. First of all, when we talk about God [using the generic name God], which God are we really talking about; we do live in a society with many views about God. God [using the term God], is a very open ended and very generic way to talk about the divine. When I talk about God, any old religion could assume that I'm referring to their god-figure. (This is where we often confuse the whole conversation between Islam and Christianity.)

I guess I've realized that I live in a world where everybody has a take on God. Its not like we live in a world of polytheists (people with multiple Gods) and we're revealing to the world there is one God. We're living in a world of people who either believe in 1 God or are ok with "not knowing and not caring." To talk about God just ends up in sounding like "blah, blah, blah, blah." God is too mainstream, too undefined, too generic to actually be interesting to listen to.

This, I think, is not as big a problem for us as Christians as it may appear, because just speaking about God is not really how it worked in the Bible. God [using the generic term God] actually has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus. As Christians when we refer to God [using the generic term God], should spend most of our time talking about Jesus. [I mean after all we're called Christians not Godians.]

If the term God is generic, able to be used by anybody referring to multiple different things, perhaps speaking about Jesus would be better. While the name Jesus has actually become a mainstream, generic name at least it is referring to someone and something specific. The only thing is that Jesus has a story. Jesus actually said something. Jesus challenges us to think differently, he creates tension. Jesus causes us to rethink, revalue, & re-prioritize our lives.

We can talk about God [using the generic term God], and not really commit to something. We can talk about God [using the generic term God], and not challenge ourselves to see the world differently. We can use the name God [using the generic term God], and not offend anybody around us. God[using the generic term God] is safe.

So I guess, perhaps we need to stop talking about God [using the generic term God], and begin talking about Jesus. Maybe that's the first step in helping people remove the glaze from their eyes.

What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2009

How the "Block M" and the "Script Ohio" relate to Organizations

I grew up a Michigan fan (that's Meechigan for those Bob Ufer fans). I was taught Ohio State is from the devil, everything about Ohio is 2nd rate compared to my beautiful home state. Little did I realize how similiar these two places are; in many ways. We're both Midwestern and have a similiar feel, which I began to notice when I moved to Kentucky: Ohio does feel like Michigan. They're both heavy on the manufacturing front. And both major football programs were based on power.

You see for years and years and years, football has been about power, strength, and sheer domination. We'd get the biggest, strongest men we could find, and then ram the ball down the field. It didn't matter how fast you were, we were going to beat you with our size and power. This has been the philosophy at both Michigan and Ohio State for decades. The two teams were really mirror images of each other. Like it or not, Michigan is like Ohio State (just, ;), we've done it better). This has been successful for years and years and years, and recently as Michigan has won a National Championship in '97 and Ohio State in '02. But the game is changing.

The game has become about speed. The mentality is not to use power and strength and move the ball down the field, it has become to spread the other team thin, isolate a highly skilled player against somebody that is slower and less skilled them them, and then get the the ball in a place where they may be able to take advantage of their speed and quickness. Power and strength has been replaced with speed and adaptibility.

Recently, I was reading in a journal on my favorite sports blog that one of the iconic Michigan coaches Bo Schembeckler, was 5-15 in bowl games. The author of this piece wondered if this wasn't a product of the power game. You see Bo was the biggest and baddest bully in his neighborhood. He for sure will dominate local kids, but what would happen when be began to meet the bully's from other neighborhoods? No longer was his power as big an advantage, and he lost the majority of his bowl games as a result. We have seen the same result recently with Ohio State's mindset; they're good in their conference games (still overpowering the little guys) but awful in the Bowl games (playing the other bullies). I think he has a point.

Michigan has, in the past couple of years, changed its mindset. No longer does it play the game based upon sheer brut strength and power, but has changed its focus to the speed and adaptible mindset of 21st century football. (Ohio State has not, they're still big, strong, and losing big games to top-ranked teams)

This pattern is not isolated to football. The mindset of business, politics, and churches has always been about power and overwhelming the opponent. This played out in Wal-Mart leveraged itself into having the most buying power; politicians bought the most ad revenue for a market; churches looked to build the best buildings with the best programs; etc.,etc.,etc. It is about power. But recently, we've discovered that power isn't as effective as it used to be. We're seeing online sales go through the roof, leaving companies like Wal-Mart struggling to catch up. One of Obama's biggest strategic advantages was that he dominated the internet, a relatively cheap way of marketing himself; in the process cutting out the need for an advantage he might have (or not have) on the traditional media markets. Churches with huge buildings are finding that just having a building and programs is not what the younger crowd is looking for; the power of the mega-church is meaningless to a 20-something.

These organizations are realizing that speed and adaptability are what's important to running a successful organization. In my field - the church - we're realizing that just having a cool youth room, cool programs, and a cool youth pastor are not enough to bring disicples in; perhaps they never were. Perhaps, like Michigan and Ohio State, we were just the biggest, best, and had the brighest lights in town and thought that if we did that we'd be able to draw kids to Jesus. Regardless, we need something more now. We must learn to adapt to student culture, we must learn to be relational, we must learn to go to the students; this mindset requires speed and adaptibility, as teen culture and mindsets are very quickly changing. In the church, it doesn't only include youth ministry, our entire culture is changing and the church as a whole must become more reliant on speed and adaptibality.

As we move further into the 21st century, we're going to see those who follow the traditional model focusing on power fall to the wayside. In the same way, we'll see those who rely on speed and adaptibility thrive!

And I still think that Ohio is a four letter word. GO BLUE!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Christian Rhetoric:

[Rhetoric: dictionary: verbal communication; discource]
(aka: talking)

Christians are to be different than the world around us. We have a different set of values, beliefs, and priorities than those who are not Christians; it's what marks us as different from everybody else. How do you know somebody is a Christian? Well you should be able to tell they're different by their actions [Galatians 5.22-26]. It should be evident in every level of their life-we're the ones who live with the Holy Spirit guiding our lives.

This mean that even the very WAY that we speak - our rhetoric - should be DIFFERENT. The very way that we communicate to people around us should be influenced by the Spirit of God that is present inside our hearts. It is not ok for a Christian to talk like everybody else.

Now what does it mean for a Christian to speak like a Christian? Well, I think a great place to start is the above mentioned passage of Scripture -- Galatians 5.22-26, the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So a Christian, when they speak, should be reflecting these attributes; these fruit of the Spirit.

The question we should be asking ourselves: "If a Christian, when they speak, is not revealing the Fruit of the Spirit, is the Spirit in them?" or perhaps we should ask,"If a Christian, when speaking, is not showing these Fruit of the Spirit, are they speaking like a Christian?" Tough questions, but I think important ones to ask ourselves...

I have seen too many Christians who have taken the Gospel message - a message of LOVE & HOPE - and not present a message that is neither of loving nor hopeful. If the rhetoric we use to communicate the Gospel isn't loving, then perhaps we're not presenting the Gospel message!

If we're not speaking without showing the Fruit of the Spirit, then perhaps we need the Fruit of the Spirit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Quote:

Lord, let the thick skin that covers me not be a hindrance to you. Pass through it. My eyes, my hands, my mouth are yours. This sad lady in front of me: here is my mouth for you to smile at her ... This smug young man, so dull, so hard: here is my heart, that you may love him, more strongly than he has ever been loved before.

- Madeleine DelbrĂȘl,
Missionary and activist (1904-1964)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Social Networking:

Social networking can be a powerful tool for those who are a.) working in groups b.) those who are in leadership, working with people. I don't understand why people in those situations wouldn't do everything they can to impliment Facebook, Twitter, and or blogs. They're simple to use, do not require a large amount of time, and the payoff is much higher than the cost - it seems like a no brainer.

I was involved in a group for about 9 months during the past year. As part of our group interaction, we used Twitter to help build solid friendships with one another. The point is that when using a social networking site, its to suppliment relationships built in ... well reality; not the foundation for a relationship.

One weekend a part of our team when on a trip to another city. While in-route one of his children threw-up in their van. This happened on a Thursday, and when it happened, he posted a tweet concerning what happened. Now, when we saw this friend on the next Monday, we had insight into what had happened to him over the weekend. We knew him just a little better, it helped us to understand his situation a little better.

Now, as far as the potential for connection, it only makes sense that a group or a leader would attempt to use technology in order to create a better sense of community amongst their organization. Sadly, when I talk with people in leadership positions, or people who work with groups, they are simply not interested in using this technology.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Being Method Transparant: "He is Risen"

Last weekend, I stopped opening the service at New Carlisle Wesleyan with the traditional "Good Morning." This is not because Good Morning is a bad way to begin a church service, but more because "Good Morning" isn't necessarily a Christian greeting. Its a greeting you could hear anywhere; school, an office, a street corner, or a restaurant. Its not a bad thing, it just not explicitly Christian.

Instead of saying, "Good Morning," I've begun using the ancient Christian refrain, "He is Risen!" & "He is Risen Indeed!" This is a very Christian back and forth describing the reality of the resurrection. Christ is indeed risen from the grave!

We do this because, as Christians, we believe that Christ has been raised from the dead, and because of this the very nature of reality has changed. Thus, the resurrection of Christ is the most important event in history. It is for this reason - and no other reason - that we gather.

Our services are celebrations of the resurrection. Coming together to remember the resurrection, to retell the story, and to ask ourselves if there are better ways of living out the resurrection in our every day life.


Monday Morning Highlight:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Enough already:

Today I was at a roundtable talkback session for the district, when it happened. We had a break and I was walking around in the hallway when a pastor, Oliver Dongell, from Plymouth Wesleyan walked by me and asked the question. You know the one that I'm doomed to hear the rest of my life. The one that at first it was kinda funny and now...well you know.

He asked me, "Do you know you look like Glenn Beck?"

Its kind of sad, because in my life, I am doing everything I can to be intentional aggressivly non-partisan. I don't think that politics solves the world's problems (more like...it creates them). I am of the persuasion, that the only solution to the problems of the world (from healthcare to terrorists) is the way of Jesus; the Kingdom of Heaven.

And to answer your question...Yes, I know I look like Glenn Beck.

Not So Nice Notre Dame Video:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Awesome Picture:

Michigan Nose Tackle Mr. Mike Martin:

note the ginormous arm...

HT --> MGoBlog

Great Quote:

We must pursue peaceful end through peaceful means.
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Monday, September 07, 2009

WANTED: Thinkers

We need people who want to think. Thinking is important, yet often very hard to do. You might say, "Dan...I'm just not a thinker." To that I say, "Liar! You're a thinker! I believe you have it in you to be a thinker."

When I was growing up, there were people who could rattle off hundreds of stats about their favorite baseball player or team, yet they would do poorly in their schoolwork. Why is that? Well not because they're dumb...they're not dumb, they just aren't thinking about school; they're thinking about how crazy the game was the night before. It's about the energy you put into thinking!

As a church (in general, not just at my church) we need people who will take up the mantle of thinking. We have a rich tradition of thinkers leading the way. They have led in philosophy, art, and culture. The church has been at the center of bring peace and love to places that are torn apart by hatred and violence. The church has always been the place where the great thinkers have hung out!

The church, now more than ever, is lacking people who are willing to be in the process of engaging the movement between the WORD and the WORLD. We're in desperate need of people who look to live in the tension between the Kingdom of God being present and the Kingdom of God that is on the way.

Will you join us? Will you embrace your role as a thinker?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Personal Thoughts:

I consistently come back to the Isaiah chapter 1. I'll spend a few months without thinking about it, but eventually my thoughts wander back to its words. They trouble me, they cause me to deeply think about who I am, what I think, and what I communicate about God. Needless to say, this part of the Bible challenges me greatly.

Pretty much the passage says:

  1. Your worship of me is worthless. In fact, just stop it. Stop what you're doing cause it's meaningless, worthless, and disgusting to me. [Is 1v1-16a]
  2. Learn to do right. Seek justice. Help the widow and the orphan. [Is 1v16b-17]
So basically, God is telling his people to stop doing what he has commanded them. They their sacrifies, prayers, and festivals are all meaning less. Whoa! Their whole religion is summed up in these actions. So pretty much, because they are failing to seek justice - to help the widow and orphan or to encourage the oppressed/rebuke the opppressor - their religion is meangingless. OUCH!

This is implying that the people of that day are not seeking justice, not helping the widow or the orphan, they're not encouraging the oppressed/rebuking the oppressor. God is angry! He is not happy with them at all. This causes me to ask the question --> am I seeking justice? or am I ok with the injustice that is happening all around me. Perhaps I'm ignorant of injustice...so is there injustice around me? If so: where is it? what is it? how am I a part of it?

For me, this also implies that to God, unless we're seeking justice, he sees our religion as worthless. It doesn't matter what I believe if I'm not helping the widow and orphan or to encouraging the oppressed/rebuke the oppressor. Which means I need to check that in my life.

I live in a world where I struggle with this daily. I'm aware of injustice around me - I read the tags on my shirt - and yet I struggle to do anything about it. [read: pragmatically I'm apathetic towards this issue] So what can I do about it.

What can I do to seek justice. What can I do to encourage the oppressed. Seriously, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Quite Random Picture of the Week:

I found this on my computer...I blame Steph.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sabbath pt3

What many people fail to realize is that in the Jewish law, Sabbath does not just refer to a 7 day work week, but to a 7 year period, and a 7x7 year period. [Leviticus]These Sabbath years were literally to be a Sabbath that lasts for an entire year! That’s 365 days of no work, which is pretty intense!

Every 7 years the whole nation would not work. This brings into question who will provide for them. The truth of the matter is that even though they work hard, their hard work does not cause the fields to produce food – God does. It is God who provides our daily bread, and the Sabbath is a visual reminder of that fact.

There is also another part to Sabbath that this goes to point out. Its not about getting rich, its not about moving up the totem pole of important people in the world. Taking a year off every few years kinda puts a damper on that idea. This idea of a Sabbath year is shouting at the Israelites, that their mindset should be different than the people around them. They’re the people who rely on God to provide, and not themselves. God has them do live this out by taking 1 out of 7 years and (in all reality) wasting them. And that’s not the crazy part.

Every 49 years there was supposed to be a year unlike any other! It was a Year of Jubilee! Check this out. In the year of Jubilee, all debts are canceled. All land that was sold in order to make ends meet was returned to its family, and all indentured slaves (people who enslaved themselves to pay of bills) were released from their bondage. So literally, everything goes back to zero.

Now of course this meant that most likely a field sold 5 years before the Jubilee was worth much less than it would have been worth 35 years prior, but still the point is still the same. All debt was to be forgiven, all land returned, and all slaves freed at the end of the 50 period; regardless of their value. How subversive, how radical, how completely different to the way we think business should be done.

Wealth in the ancient world – and today at some level – comes from what one owns. Some people are endowed with large tracts of land, and others have nothing. Some people are born into affluence, others are born into poverty, and the difference between the two is growing everyday. This happens because the rich have the ability to leverage their possessions into getting more, and the poor – continually struggling to make ends meet – are stuck spinning their wheels in an attempt to just keep their heads above water.

The Year of Jubilee was a time when God commanded the rich to give back to the poor. All debts were canceled. All land sold to help a family survive, was returned, and all slaves were freed! It is God's way of helping the rich and the poor not become too divide. Its like the master plan in Fight Club, just minus the blowing up of the buildings. God is leveling the playing field.

This is powerful. Linked to Sabbath is the reminder that the rich shouldn't be so concerned with getting rich, that they leave their friends behind who don't have as much wealth as they do. Perhaps God is calling us to do the same.

What do you think?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: "Let Go" by Sheila Walsh

(*I am a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson Publishing. Seeing as this book is directed towards women, I had Steph review it. Enjoy the review!)

When my husband asked me to read, Let Go, by Sheila Walsh, I was not excited about it. When I read the back cover, it seemed like another Christian self-help book (of which I am not a big fan). As I began to read through the first two chapters, I realized I was going through a situation that I needed to “let go” of, and Sheila was giving me honest examples, advice, and biblical truths I could apply to my situation.

In, Let Go, Sheila addresses issues many women go through that prevent them from becoming all they can be in Christ. Chapter three discussed living in the past. As I was going through something that still haunts me from my past, I was able to take heart that I am not the only person to struggle with past situations. She wrote, “Truth is powerful. At times it is heartbreaking, but ultimately, it will deliver you. (pg.35)” This statement struck me and has stuck with me.

At the end of each chapter, Sheila asked questions that made me really have to think in order to answer honestly. As I worked through my own issue, I was given hope and assurance that I am not alone. Other women go through the same thing, and with Christ’s help and hope, I can overcome them to become the woman I want to be.


Great Quote:

Peace is inextricably linked
with equality between
women and men.
- U.N. Security Council,
at their open debate
on women, peace,
and security
(October 2002)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Links & Thoughts: Michigan Football

So if you're a Michigan fan or a college football fan, you probably heard that Michigan has recently been accused of breaking NCAA rules concerning too many hours of mandatory practice during the off season. [ [ [ Link ] ] ] This is a serious claim, and one that if true could give Meechigan a very big black eye.

Of course, when it comes to Michigan football, I have one source Brian. Brian is the main operator for MGoBlog, a one stop shop for all things Michigan football. Apparently, Brian is starting a Jihad against the paper who published the article. Here are responses he posted concerning this controversy. (Post #1, Post #2, Post #3).

Now, Brian made the point that the author of the article - Michael Rosenberg - has a personal grudge against Rich Rodriguez. Or at least he doesn't like Rich Rod. So maybe that paints the story with anti-Rodriguez glasses. (FWIW).

Brian makes some good points and I think that if he is right, the program will be ok. But if he's wrong and the program has been breaking rules, they need to be punished. Hopefully, this is all poor thinking, complaing players, and a biased journalist who's anti-Michigan football. I want a program that wins, and that does it above boards. GO BLUE!

Flamingo Fundraiser: Don't get Flocked

Perhaps you're curious what the big announcement was at church today. Well the big announcement is that the Flamingos are coming. That's right those ugly, nasty, smelly birds are on their way! Let's face it, flamingos are tacky and ugly. People who have them in their lawns should be ashamed of themselves! So you really don't want to be seen with a flock of flamingos in your yard!

Lucky for you, the New Carlisle Student Ministries has been planning and preparing for this all summer. We're prepared to keep those disgusting birds off your lawn. Also, lucky for you, we're selling Flamingo Insurance. IF you don't want to take the risk of having those awful birds end up in your yard you should get yourself protected.

Below is a copy of our insurance form. If you would like to, fill one out -- just print your name, address, and signature, and bring it in to the church by next Sunday (9-6-09) -- and we'd love to get you insured. DON'T LET THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPEN!

If you have any questions, call the church @ 574.654.7898!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Great Quote:

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
~Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sabbath pt2

Life is a struggle, one that takes everything we have in order to succeed. Only the richest of the rich don’t need to worry about the future. There is only 24 hours a day and we usually find ourselves working far too many of those hours just to make ends meet. This has been going on for centuries and is nothing new.

I don’t need to know you to know that you work hard. I know that you often lay in bed wondering how the bills will all be paid, how you’re going to be able to save up for college, or how you’re going to get the noose of debt off your neck. We’re all in the same boat!

It is for this reason that when people come up against the idea of taking a Sabbath they freak out. “We’re barely making ends meet by working 7 days a week, you’re asking me to cut 1 day off and still expect ends to meet?” A farmer who works more in a busy season than in a slow season could ask, “Am I expected to take that 7th day off? How can I be expected to get all the work done?”

Yeah, this is what God is asking his people.

The question we must ask ourselves is what should we rely upon? Should we trust in our own hard work? Or should we trust in God to provide for us? This is what it means for a person to take a Sabbath. God is asking his people to trust that he will provide for them if they take 1/7th of their productive time away.

Now, there is no promise that life will be easier. God never promises that if you honor the Sabbath you’ll have more than if you don’t. God is simply asking his people to trust in him.

So I guess the issue with Sabbath is:
 What do you trust in to provide for you?
 Do you trust that God can provide for you?
 Do you think you can do better in 7 days than God can in 6?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sabbath pt 1

I’d like to do a 3-part series on the concept behind Sabbath. First, I’d like to talk about what is Sabbath? (what is Yahweh saying to us here?) Next, I’d like to look into what we’re saying by following Sabbath. Finally, I’d like to look into the practice of Sabbath years and the Year of Jubilee.

So…what is Sabbath? Well, as it is spelled out in Exodus 20, we see that it is an edict for Israel to not work on the 7th day of the week. Sabbath also came to include the many feast days and celebrations that Yahweh’s people observed, the annual Sabbath practice of letting the land lie still every 7 years, and the year of Jubilee celebrated every 49 years.

Yahweh says to practice Sabbath because on the 7th day of creation He rested. Interesting! What I think is saying is that a day of rest has been programmed into the very DNA of creation. OR that we’re not meant to work, work, work. This means that at the very core of what it means to be a human being cannot be found in our work.

The Sabbath is a once a week reminder that our value is found in the fact that Yahweh created us and that He needs no other reason than that to love us. The problem is that it is so easy to forget this. Perhaps we should say it this way: Sabbath reminds us that we are human beings not human doings.

This is foreign to our mindsets. We live in a world where we are judged by our production: “How much money do I make?” – “What is your GPA?” – “How fast can you run, how high can you jump, or how well can you put this ball through that hoop?” We spend so much time focusing on these things. They become the way that we view ourselves. We see ourselves as less important than somebody who makes a ton of money. We constantly compare ourselves to the person who has a perfect 4.0 GPA. We wish we were like the star athlete. We think this because we are constantly judging ourselves by how well we produce. We have been tricked into seeing ourselves as human doings.

Perhaps a way that you can help yourself overcome this obsession with production is to take a Sabbath. Take a day and don’t produce anything – just relax and reclaim your identity as a human being.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The Tigers are in 1st, the Cubs are in 1st. I have the option of watching nearly every Tigers game, and many Cubs games. I feel as if I am in heaven!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


"weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless." 
-calvin & hobbes

HT - Marcie Gerow

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Quote:

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all 
other countries because you were born in it.
-George Bernard Shaw

Great Quote:

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received ... but only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.

- St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saved by grace pt.1

Recently I made a joke telling a friend that an action they were in the process of committing was a sin (even though we both knew I was joking). His response was, “saved by grace..” When he said it, it sort of struck me a little odd – what does saved by grace actually mean?

What he meant is that he is not saved by the actions he makes. So, what I was joking with him about has no bearing on his salvation. He means that it is by the ‘grace of God’ that he is saved, not by living a certain code. He is taking passages in the New Testament dealing with Gentile circumcision and broadly applying to all facets of life (not a slam on his viewpoint, just a definition).

I guess, while I agree with “saved by grace,” I struggle with the way that phrase is often lived out. Usually, when a person uses that phrase it comes off as, “well I’m saved by grace so this action or that action that I am in the midst of committing are cool.” Or they are a way of rejecting any sort of moral code imposed by a church or denomination. “Saved by grace” means that any sort of regulation imposed upon me is at its core legalism and not Biblical.

Ironically, saved by grace is a phrase found in the letters from Paul. In these letters, we find him giving directions moral/lifestyle commands. So those very people who quote Paul and say, “saved by grace, I can do this or that…it’s unbiblical to say this or that” really aren’t living lives that justify the Bible, they’re using the Bible to justify their lives.

I’m not even going to get into the whole process of its not about what I do that leads me to salvation. Because these same people all point to the moment of decision where they decided to get saved, say a prayer, etc. That looks like they’re doing something to be a part of their salvation. Perhaps saved by grace isn’t a license to live life however you feel like it should be lived!

My point is to say that when we start to say I'm saved by grace, I can do anything I want - they're missing the point of the passage as a whole. Saved by grace is pointing to the fact that salvation is a gift to us-the gift of life. To cut it down into just being a verse used to justify your lifestyle, is fail to understand this concept.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Great Quote:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. 
-Desmond Tutu

Friday, August 07, 2009

Why we don't get the cross

I think we all struggle with understanding the cross; what its implications are, what God is doing through it, and how it saves us. The reason this is so is because it is a completely foreign way of winning. This is precisely because a cross is about losing. Thus God through Jesus is using losing to win.

You see the cross was a reminder to losers that they had lost. The Romans - and the Persians before them - used the cross on subjugated peoples who rebelled. After crushing a rebellion, the Romans would hang the leaders of the rebellion on crosses as a reminder to everybody else who really was in charge. (see Sparticus) It's a reminder from the strong that even at your strongest you're not as strong as us.

In the world I live in (It's the only one I can speak for) winning means I win. I beat the other guy. I come in first in the race. I accomplish a goal. I achieve. Winning means I conquor, I prove my strength, I show off my power, it means I vanquish my enemy. In the world I live in, the cross does not make sense. I live in America, we don't lose. We're the best. The strongest. The most powerful. The most influencial. We're the movers and the shakers. We dominate.

I don't get the cross, because for God to win, he had to vanquish somebody or something. Who gets beat here? Well, who's on the cross? But that doesn't make sense, Jesus is the hero. The Hero is supposed to win. The hero isn't supposed to be on the cross. The hero is supposed to rise up, to turn the hammer on the one driving the nails into his hands. The hero isn't supposed to die like that. He's supposed to make a mad dash to the hills, not to be nailed to the tree.

In the end, Jesus' victory is in the fact that he lost. In the end God chooses a path to victory that goes through defeat. This makes absolutely no sense!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Nicean Creed

We read the Nicean Creed in church this last Sunday. I thought it was a great exercise.

This is the creed that every orthodox Christian Church around the world professes to believe. Whether you are a Catholic, Easter Orthodox, Methodist, or Wesleyan this is what you are saying when you profess to be a Christian.

Nicean Creed
(I recommend reading the "Modern Version" just a little further down the page)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Great Quote:

The cross is God's way of saying, "Love Wins."
-Rob Bell


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Furniture update:

so we ordered this couch from American Freight in June. They told us it'd be here in 4 weeks...obviously it has been longer than that. So we're excited for it to come, but are anxious cause it isn't here yet.

to quote Steph: "Just get here!" sadly this is American Freight's M.O. so if you want to get a couch right away, don't go to American Freight!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Love pt 4

Love is pro-life. But not like you think.

Love's pro-life stance is against abortion but it is also against leaving a single mother with no options alone to deal with her problems. You see love realizes that just making a law is not a going to make a difference. It recognizes that good laws need to be made, but demands we change our lives to help those who need help. So love does not allow us act - in the name of justice and truth - coldly, blindly, without concern for people who need help

You see Love's pro-life stance is against terrorism, but it's also against the war on terror. It realizes that neither provide the way to peace and equality.

Love's pro-life stance calls for justice, but also demands mercy.

Love is so pro-life it cannot stand idly by and watch another starve. Love causes a rich man to sell everything he has and give it to help his neighbor get some food. Being pro-life asks the one who has much, to liberally give it all away in order to be a neighbor to a stranger.

Love is so pro-life it is against fences. It looks to tear down walls, to repair the broken relationships that divide all of us. Love looks to make friends with the burglar, to clean up after the vandal, and to forgive the criminal. Love is so pro-life that it cannot fathom the death penalty, preemptive strikes, or torture.

Love is so pro-life it demands that wrong doing be treated with forgiveness. It cannot stand revenge, retaliation, or pay-back. Being pro-life means that love refuses to hate, it refuses to hold a grudge, and it refuses to quit attempting to reconcile.

Love's pro-life stance is so strong, its destiny can be summed up in two words: Love Wins.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love pt 3

Peter Ustinov once said, "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." Now that statement is a mouthful.

I am fascinated with the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Perhaps fascinated is too nice of a word, I'm intrigued and horrified by the whole episode. What intrigues me is both sides are at fault, and neither side will own up to their wrong doings. What is more evil: a nail bomb in a shopping district or a laser guided missile into a ghetto? What is more evil: the belief that one nation should be destroyed or starving an entire population?

I have always wondered why the Trade Towers? Why did Osama -twice- attempt to destroy the Trade Towers? Think about it, when we went into Iraq in 1991, we first attacked military communications - that makes sense. Why did Osama go after the Trade Towers?

I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day and his guest had written a book about one county in Mississippi which refused to succeed from the Union during the American Civil War. One of their reasons to not succeed was because they didn't have a problem with the outlawing of slaves, they were poor. They thought that the whole idea of succession was a rich man's idea. The guest (and I forget her name) made the point this was pretty much the mindset of many in the south during the early 1860's.

As I write this, I wonder what's the difference war or terrorism different? Both are working from a weakness. Because a strong person does not need to result in violence to move in the world; only the weak. I'm not talking about physical strength, but the strength that counts. You know the strength that helps the single mom raise her child, the marathoner to run further, or the adult restraining himself/herself from hitting a child that his just hit them.

Violence, either through war or terrorism, reveals an inner weakness. The strong do not need to respond with violence; they respond with love and compassion. The strong can do this because they understand their place in the world; they understand that even at their strongest they are not nearly strong enough.

My friend JD Walt has a theme in his teachings, the mind of Christ, which is found in Philippians 2. Here we see that Jesus, even though he was co-equal with God, did not attempt to use his status for his own gain, but he humbled himself. He humbled himself to become a man, he humbled himself to death, and in death he even humbled himself to die on a cross (which at every level was an awful death).

How could Jesus do this? Well because he was strong. He didn't need to resort to terrorism; a ploy many of his fellow Galaliean freedom fighters had done. He didn't need to resort to calling his fellow Jews to rise up in a fight to the death. That would mean that he was weak. Instead he humbled himself and in his death made a spectacle of the powers of his day.

Where does strength come from? I think strength comes from knowing one's place in the universe. It comes from knowing that the one who has all strength, chooses to love all the world, even his enemies. Strength is choosing to follow in that pattern and love all the world, even those who consider themselves our enemies. Real strength is love.

I think what Ustinov was getting at is that terrorism and war come from the same place. Perhaps as followers of Jesus we should take Paul's advice and have the mind of Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Love pt 2

Jesus once told a story in which the hero was a vile Samaritan (Luke 10). This would be the equivalent of me telling a story with a Taliban Nazi being the hero. His hero is possibly the worse choice possible – the Samaritans were hated. Why would he do this?

If you ever watch an old war movie, you’ll notice that the soldiers never refer to their enemies by their proper names. In World War II, the enemies were “Krauts” and “Japs”. In The Korean War, the enemies were “Commies”. In Vietnam, the enemies were “Gooks”. Why would they do this?

Across town, on the other side of the tracks, (name your place)tucky. We have ways to talk about places where people who are different than us live. Usually these places are given derogatory titles. Why do we do this?

When we have people who are different than us and those who are considered our enemies in our lives, we look for ways to dehumanize them. We call them names other than their name. We say they’re from a place that fails to meet up to our standards. We do everything we can to make them less than human.

When Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan being a hero, he forces his readers to value this Samaritan man as a human being.

Who are you dehumanizing? Who do you need to see as a human being?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Love pt 1

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducee's, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

When Jesus says "All the Law and the Prophets" he is talking about the portion of Scripture what we call the Old Testament. So, we see Jesus believes that the focal point of the Scriptures is love. The reason why we see him challenging all of the religious systems of his day is because they were not centered around love.

He challenged a Sabbath system that cared more about rules than healing. He challenged those who tithe huge amounts by saying the woman who gave 2 pennies was the one who gave the most. When he cleared the temple he was challenging it, because those selling were not selling out of a love for Yahweh or the Torah, but to make huge sums of money. His whole ministry was calling out systems built on greed and fear, not built around love.

If these systems were not built on love what were they built on? Well the two basic roots are fear and greed; sometimes both. These systems usually are built on involve control, power. Because fear and greed are so powerful, these systems often use violence in order to protect and control themselves.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are choked full of Jesus calling his followers to live lives of love; it is the core of his project with the 12. He spends 3-years deconstructing the way that they think; because no other systems are built on love. In the end - for his final act of love – he challenged a system of greed and fear by calling their greed out for everybody to see. Lovingly, he refused to respond to their violence with violence, instead he responded to their beating by praying to God for them.

The question is why are we acting the way we do. Are our systems being built on love? Or do they find their source in greed or fear?

Part 2 to follow tomorrow.