Monthly Archives: May 2013

Free Flow Fridays!!!

Week One of Summer break is in the books.Unknown-1

Grab some sweet tea and a hammock, give the kids a water hose to play with and relax with some free links that have been flowing through my mind this week. . .

Enjoy the weekend. . .

I. HOME AND FAMILY (3 Articles)

#1. Why Attend Church on Vacation? by Ron Edmondson

“As you consider your vacation this year, I want to encourage you to find a church wherever you are and visit.

One of the first things Cheryl and I do when we go out of town is look for a place to attend church on Sunday. We’ve had some incredible experiences attending other churches and its one of our favorite parts about vacation.”

#2. How to Raise Kids Who Won’t Hate the Church by Ben Reed

“My child loving the church his whole life isn’t a given … and neither is it for yours.

Should you ‘force’ your kids to go to church? Or let them choose?

Should you let them go to the main worship service with you when they want? Or put them in the kids area?

Let them wear what they want? Or dress them to the nines?

Here are some intentional actions I’m taking to keep my son from growing up to hate the Church.”

#3. Why Kid and Student Ministries are CRUCIAL for the Church by Eric Geiger

“Here is the reality. God who is fully powerful and can do whatever He pleases has chosen to use the weak things of the world to exert His influence (Psalm 8:1-2). He often uses kids and students to accomplish His purposes. Large companies and marketing executives spend tremendous energy attempting to influence children and teenagers because they value their influence and their ability to spark movements. Surely local churches should steward resources and energy towards children and students to an even greater degree.”

II. CULTURAL ISSUES (2 Articles)

#1. The Church’s Engagement with Homosexuality by Al Mohler

“Our churches must teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships. Young people must be told the truth about homosexuality–and taught to esteem marriage as God’s intention for human sexual relatedness.

“The times demand Christian courage. These days, courage means that preachers and Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality. We must talk about what the Bible teaches about gender–what it means to be a man or a woman. We must talk about God’s gift of sex and the covenant of marriage.”

#2. 9 Things You Should Know about Pornography and the Brain by Joe Carter

“‘Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates.’ says William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College. ‘Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.’ Here are 9 things you should know about pornography affects the brain.”

III. RANDOM (2 Articles)

#1. Homemade Engagement Ring Lights Up When Fiance Gets Close 

“At last, the moment came. ‘I took her hiking — we live in San Francisco, and the plan was to propose at dusk on top of one of the hills.’ Unfortunately, it was cloudy, which will surprise few residents — but once they were safe from the elements, the proposal went ahead anyway, and it wasn’t long before Kokes was able to put the ring where it belonged.”

#2. Why Coffee is Called ‘Joe’

“Joe is, of course, short for Joseph. And in American English, “joe” can refer to an average guy, a soldier, or—somewhat strangely—coffee. A popular chain in New York, for instance, is called Joe the Art of Coffee.

“As it turns out, the use of joe as slang for coffee dates to the World War I era.”

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Kids Today: Same – But Oh, So Different

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In a few minutes I will get in my Honda Accord and drive back out to Beech Springs, where the 1st and 2nd graders from FBC are having Kidz Kamp.

Last night, I had the wonderful privilege of not only preaching to these wild, smelly, and precious children – but sleeping in the same bunk area with 20 other boys.

The sweet smell of wet towels, socks, dirt, sweat, Oreos, Cool Ranch Doritos, SpeedStick deo, beef jerky, and unflushed toilets filled the air. Ahhh. . .

Tonight, I get to preach to these kids again. I love it.

I noticed 2 things last night I wanted to pass on for what it’s worth:

1. Kids still need and are hungry for God. 

2. Kids are different today than when I was a kid. 

I noticed fire in some of their eyes when I preached on how strong God is and how he delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. I saw hunger from their expressions for more of the power and greatness of God. Kids need to know this God! They want to know the God of the Bible! This has always been the case and is very true today.

But they are oh so different. Last night, when lights went out in our bunk, they weren’t saying goodnight to Jon Boy or Mary Ellen. No, they were saying good night to the Sandman, the Boogey Man, the Man in the Moon, and the Easter Bunny (“Rise of the Guardians”). They were humming the song associated with ‘Angry Birds.’ They wanted to play games on my phone. Their Bible’s were either hot pink or camouflage. They had never heard of Michael Jordan nor had a clue of what a Gameboy is.

I didn’t ask, but I assume they had never seen a tape player, heard music from a CD, or watched a VHS movie. They’ve never NOT known the internet or cell phones, Twitter or Facebook.

What’s the take away? To be relevant to the next generation NEVER means stop giving them the truth of who God is and how He works. No. No. No. They need and want God now more than ever. To be relevant is to do the hard work of figuring out how to best communicate the same biblical truths in a way that they ‘get.’

It’s not going to look like it did 10, 15, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. It can’t. The bottom line truths and message MUST stay the same. But how it’s done? That must change if we want to keep and attract ’em.

I gotta go. I gotta make sure the toilets get flushed before bed time!

 

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Extraordinary Experiences

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This quote from Mark Sanborn’s Fred 2.0 stirred my thinking significantly. Though targeted towards business owners, read carefully what he says here:

“Many resources, it seems, are undifferentiated commodities that we could get from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Employees who offer nothing different from other employees are interchangeable – and they likely won’t go far in their careers.

“If everything we provide, as individuals or organizations, is exactly the same as what others provide, there is no reason for customers to choose us, our products, or our services above others. That means the competition always will be based on price – lowest price, to be exact. If we want to be in demand as an employee or an employer, or as a product or service provider, we need to make sure we offer customers the ultimate differentiator: an extraordinary experience.” (emphasis added)

Read the bold italicized sentence again.

His point is – in business – if you want to set yourself apart from your competition, the way to do that is to ensure the customers’ experience with you and/or your product is Extraordinary. Different. Superior. Phenomenal. Mind-Blowing.

Here’s what has stirred my thinking: I think the exact same thing applies in marriage, in parenting, and – dare I say it – churches.

Wanna make sure your spouse doesn’t go looking for another ‘product’? Make sure you are always living to make him or her thrive (extraordinary experience). Make sure they know that your love for them is far superior than anyone or anything else.

Wanna make sure your kids stay connected with you after high school? Build a culture of love and joy and peace and fun and excitement and wisdom and compassion and discipline and character building. The ultimate differentiator is an extraordinary experience.

Or what about churches? How do we – as church leaders – differentiate ourselves, not from other churches, but from other things vying for our people’s time and attention? How do we make it to where our people desire to come worship corporately? Is it possible to build a culture where people prioritize attending church over their beds, brunch, the lake, a game?

Could it be that so many church people choose other things over regular church attendance – not because they are lazy and sinful (I know plenty of regular church attenders who are that – don’t you?), but because those charged with leading the church have defaulted to providing a mediocre experience over and over again?

Could it be that thousands of church people are being more impacted by ‘extra activities’ than their church experience? Is it that they are mis-prioritizing things in their lives, or are they merely doing what adds the most value to them?

Am I saying it is wrong to miss a Sunday to go to the lake? Of course not. Go and have fun.

Am I saying that all who skip church to do other things are intimately walking with Jesus? Nope. Not saying that either.

I just believe that we church people – especially us church leaders – could learn something from Mark Sanborn. As I think about many, many, many, many church services I have endured in my lifetime – to be honest – going to the lake or sleeping in an extra hour would have added much more value to my life.

Do I think it is all the church’s fault? No. Of course not. I know we live in a fallen world and we are sinners and are ‘prone to wander.’ But if the God we say we love and worship and serve is the Author of Extraordinary Experiences – should we not strive to do the same for His people when we gather? Maybe, just maybe they would have a reason to come back.

Thoughts?

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Free Flow Friday!!!

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Today’s the day where I link you to articles I have saved from the week that I think you might enjoy and benefit from.

It’s Friday.

They’re Free.

You have nothing to lose.

Enjoy.

 

 

1. 5 Obstacles to a Great Marriage by Ron Edmondson

“The overall goal of marriage is not to make both parties in the marriage like one of the parties.  It’s to make ONE new unit out of the two. Discovering how to blend one flesh out of two different people takes years and requires practice, patience and lots of hard work. Remembering that differences are a part of God’s plan and can actually help us build stronger marriages.”

2. Pictures of Oklahoma Tornado Aftermath by Boston.com

“Tornadoes can form anytime of year, but occur most frequently in April, May, and June, due to favorable weather conditions. Earlier this week a massive 200-mile-per-hour EF5 tornado hit Moore, Okla., killing some two dozen people, damaging thousands of structures, and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. This year, twisters have already touched down in Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama.”

3. Three Articles to Help Your Energy Level

8 Ways to Improve Your Sleep from Lifehack

“Allowing yourself adequate sleep should be a no-brainer; it should feel natural to all people and we should reclaim it as our right. Sleep is one of the most important non-negotiable elements in your self-care, but it takes courage to go against the flow of 24/7 alertness and allow your body its necessary rest so that it can rejuvenate.”

How Chocolate Makes You More Productive from Fast Company

“The inference, then, is this: If cocoa supplies your brain with polyphenols, and polyphenols allay anxiety, and anxiety inhibits idea-flow, then mood-elevating chocolate can help your ideas stream out faster.

Conclusion? When you grab your next bar, go dark.”

44 Ways to Boost Your Energy by Michael Hyatt

“Too often, we seem to accept the fact that our energy level is what it is. It’s beyond our control. Not true. Like most things in life, we have more control than we think.”

4. 10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Everyday from Lifehack

“When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet? If you’re one of countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits, and just a few benefits of reading are listed below.”

5. 7 Honest Church Postcards & 7 More Honest Church Postcards & even 7 More Honest Church Postcards from EchoHub

Funny stuff. So true.

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Thank God for the Boogey Man

So, my Pharisaical-Legalistic self didn’t even want my kids to watch Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians. When I saw the previews, I remember thinking:

“Nope. Not gonna let my kids watch that. Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy imagessaving the day? Not in my house. We have a hard enough time knowing what to do with those things. I am not going to let Hollywood put more logs on those fires. No. Sir. Ree. Only Jesus saves in my house.”

I felt alot more righteous after I thought it. You know how it goes for us church people, right? We feel so much better about how spiritual we are after we think of 25 reasons Hollywood is so unspiritual. [I need help don’t I?]

But as any parent knows – saying in your mind what you won’t let your kids do usually comes back to get you. Luke turned 8 on Saturday. Wanna know what he wanted to do Saturday night? Watch . . . . Yep. Rise of the Guardians. Know what I watched with my 3 kids and wife on Saturday night? Yep – Rise of the Guardians. Know what else? I loved it. Thought it was great. Couldn’t wait to go to sleep to see if Mr. Sandman was gonna show up. Wanted to lose another tooth so that the. . . okay, I’ll stop. But you get the point. I enjoyed the movie.

I learned some things about myself, my kids, and Hollywood. School is out. Summer is here. Your kids are going to start looking for stuff to do.

Here are some thoughts about movies and parenting to maybe help out this summer:

1. Kid Movies Aren’t All Evil. 

They’re fun. They’re entertaining. They’re something you can do together. There are some really good ones out there.

2. Kid Movies Provide GREAT talking points.

Since Saturday night, I have been able to take certain portions of the movie and revert it back to them, or a truth from the Bible, or just to laugh with them. For instance, at one point Santa takes Jack Frost into his closet and asks Jack what his ‘center’ is. In other words, Santa knew his purpose in life (his ‘center’). He pushed Jack to know his. This provided a great talking point for me and the kids about our purpose. Know what? They got it. Why? They had just seen a movie run by experts who know how to relate to kids.

3. Kid Movies Almost Always Picture the Gospel.

I’m serious. Take Rise of the Guardians. The “Man in the Moon” appoints Jack Frost to rise up and destroy the evil Boogey Man. Yes. You read that right. The Boogey Man wants all children to live in fear. The “Man in the Moon” chooses not to just “let it be,” but sends one who can conquer. Sound familiar? Yep. God appointed Jesus to destroy the works of the devil.

Monday morning at breakfast I talked about that – for maybe 3 minutes – and guess what? All 3 kids were engaged and intently listened while they processed the connection. I’ll take 3 minutes of having them all engaged any day.

If you think about it there is almost always a bad guy wanting to mess everything up and a good guy who is appointed to set it all straight. WE know that ultimately this has happened in Jesus. We can use these things, however, to help our kids understand it deeper and more fully.

4. Kid Movies Almost Always Provide GREAT Visual Examples

If you watch carefully, usually there is a smart aleck kid or a child with a major attitude. Also – without fail – the parents are usually the idiots in these movies (especially the dads!). These things are what make these movies (and many of the ‘kid friendly’ shows on TV) so dangerous. There’s (usually) no bad language or violence or sexual content. But there is an ‘air’ of bad attitude or ‘dumb’ parents that is extremely disappointing. Instead of just refusing to let our kids watch anything, I think it is good to let them see and watch things that contradict what the Bible teaches – SO THAT – you can talk to them about it and help them SEE it. It’s one thing to tell your kids what should or shouldn’t be done. It’s another thing for them to actually SEE it and then have an explanation.

What to do with your kids this summer?

My first suggestion would be to take and keep your kids OUTSIDE as much as possible. For those extra hot or rainy days – however – read a good book and watch a good movie. Watch it WITH THEM. Then, when they least expect it, throw out some intentional thoughts. After my Monday morning 3 minute Gospel connection who knew I would think, “Thank God for the Boogey Man!”???

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How Do You Explain Tornado Killings to an Eight Year Old?

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Last night I received this ‘tweet’ from an FBC parent:

So (son’s name) just asked, ‘Why did God send that storm and let those kids die?’ How do you explain that to an 8 year old so he will understand?

Wow. That is some seriously difficult stuff. It’s hard for this 36 year old theological PhD pastor to understand – much less try to help an 8 year old understand.

My tweetable response (for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, you only get 140 characters per ‘tweet’): “Short answer: God is good no matter what; we live in a world where ALL of it needs rescued by Jesus. One day it won’t be like this – heaven.

I have been thinking about this mom’s tweet. It hits home on several fronts. One, I am this family’s pastor. Two, I have an 8 year old living under my roof. My 8 year old hasn’t asked the question, but if he does how do you explain something like this to an 8 year old – so he/she will understand?

Here’s my best shot. I would try to break it down like this:

1. God made everything perfect. 

2. Sin messed everything up. 

3. God sent Jesus to fix everything. 

Though each of these truths are MASSIVELY deep and important and rich (I can feel sermon series’ rising in my bones as I type!), I would try to keep it as simple as possible.

In Genesis 1 and 2 we know God made everything and He made everything perfect. No problems. No storms. No crying. No death. No sin. No bad – Anywhere. However, in Genesis 3 we read where Adam and Eve sinned against God and did what God said not to do. When that happened, because God hates sin so much, the whole world started going crazy. God hates sin so much because it hurts His children. When sin entered God’s perfect world, everything and everybody started going bonkers. But instead of God giving us what we deserve because we sin against Him, He showed just how much He loves us. He sent Jesus to make everything all better again. Jesus went through what we deserve so we won’t have to. Jesus did everything for us. One day, He will come back a second time and will make the world the way God originally intended. It won’t always be like this.

Paul said this in Romans 8:19-21 – “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

Yesterday was yet another reminder that we – as God’s people – eagerly wait for that glorious day when this stuff will be no more.

You might even want to sing a Christmas carol today. A line in “Joy to the World” goes like this:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Yesterday we saw again the tragic affects of sin’s curse. But God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to make His blessings flow ‘far as the curse is found.’

Parents, let’s help each other here. What else would you add? How have you responded to your child?

[I saw the image posted above here and here.]

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Now THAT’s a Good Question!

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Yesterday morning at FBC El Do I had the privilege of baptizing 3 adults, 3 teenagers, and an 8 year old boy. In a word, it was awesome.

In helping prepare these Jesus followers, I was asked a really good question:

Where in the Bible does it actually say we have to be baptized by immersion?

Great question. The person asking had been influenced by different denominations throughout his life – all holding to a different view of both mode and meaning of baptism. He genuinely wanted to know.The Scriptures had been searched by this person. Nowhere was the command found to be completely dunked underwater when being baptized.

My answer was brilliant.

My answer was one of those moments I wish could have been captured on tape.

My momma would have been proud.

My seminary professors would have asked for my autograph.

My full blooded Baptist family heritage would have been so pleased to know they had raised such an astute professional.

It was one of those answers that probably made God love me a little bit more than He did the day before.

Ready? Want to know what I told him? Hope you’re sittin’ down. . . Here’s what I told him:

“It don’t.” 

(I know, I know – pretty amazing. . . come by later and I’ll sign a copy of the Baptist Faith and Message for you. I’m also working on a new book about humility – come by and I will give you the first chapter for free.)

That’s right. I told the dude asking me that the Bible never says to baptize by dunking.

“WHAT?” You ask. “Then why in the world do you ‘make’ people get dunked?” Great question.

Why would I have people – who had gotten all prettied up for the day – go all the way underwater if the Bible never commands it?

Why would I have people get soakin’ wet in front of hundreds of people – most of whom are horrified of standing in front of crowds anyway – if the Bible never commands it?

Why would I have people miss half of the service because they have to blow dry their hair and redo their makeup before they ‘go public’ again after being dunked – if the Bible never commands it?

Why would I subject myself to being obligated to hold people’s nasty greasy noses when they go under water – if the Bible doesn’t command it (do you know who much oil and dirt gather around people’s snozzes?)?

If the Bible never commands baptism by immersion, then why do it that way? Two reasons:

1. The Bible commands baptism

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2. The biblical word for ‘baptize’ literally means ‘to dunk underwater.’ 

Read Matthew 28:19. Jesus followers are commanded to baptize other Jesus followers. We know how it is to be done simply by the meaning of the word. The word for ‘baptize’ means ‘to dip’ or ‘to submerge’ or ‘to completely immerse underwater’ or ‘to dunk like you do an Oreo in milk.’ Though it does not explicitly demand immersion underwater – the very meaning of the command ‘to baptize’ means to dunk. You will never see a verse like this: “Thou shalt baptize by dunking the whole person underwater.” Why? Because the very meaning of the word ‘baptize’ means to dunk a whole person underwater.

If I say to my son Luke, “Go vacuum your room.” We all know what that means. We know what it means to vacuum. It would be pointless to say, “Go vacuum your room by going to the laundry room, get out the Dirt Devil, take it to your room, plug it in, and guide it across your floor until every piece of spilled fish food is sucked up into the machine.” The very meaning of the word vacuum informs how it is to be done.

Make sense? What other questions do you have about baptism? The ordinances? Why grease and dirt gather around our noses? Seriously, other questions about baptism out there?

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