Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Scary Story

A man is walking home alone late one foggy night...
when behind him he hears:
Walking faster, he looks back and through the fog he makes out the image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street toward him.

Terrified, the man begins to run toward his home, the casket bouncing quickly behind him
He runs up to his door, fumbles with his keys, opens the door, rushes in, slams and locks the door behind him.
However, the casket crashes through his door, with the lid of the casket clapping
on his heels, the terrified man runs.
Rushing upstairs to the bathroom, the man locks himself in. His heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.

With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door.
Bumping and clapping toward him.
The man screams and reaches for something, anything, but all he can find is a bottle of cough syrup!

Desperate, he throws the cough syrup at the casket...

The coffin stops

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Growing Up To Honor The Sacred

I read a great blog this morning from my friend, Matsonia. Check it out:

Growing Up To Honor The Sacred

If our sex is not sacred
Then our relationships are not sacred
And our children are not sacred
And the artifacts our sons and daughters produce are bound to deny the sacred

These four motions of culture are supposed to be our creative expressions of the sacred:

  1. Sex,
  2. Relationships,
  3. Children,
  4. and their Artifacts.

To honor the sacred is to sustain a sacred fire through each successive motion. Sex generates relationships, relationships generate children, children generate artifacts, and artifacts generate our history of the sacred. And so on….If the sacred fire is not fed, the flame dies with the motion that fails to carry it forward. The movement of culture, however, does not die. It flows on in a constant wave of motions, with or without the fire that fulfills their meaning.

When a person denies his social responsibility to sustain the sacred in the world, he fumbles his fire. He denies the sacred in order to hang back in a prolonged state of adolescence. A generation in a collective state of denial (the 1960’s, for example) can generate and sustain a culture that refuses to grow up about sex, about relationships, about children, or about their artifacts. This is the irresponsible culture in which we now live, a culture populating the landscape with consumer playthings, sucked hollow of any sacred value. See if you recognize them:

  • convenient and disposable sex
  • convenient and disposable relationships
  • convenient and disposable children
  • convenient and disposable artifacts

I hope you will recognize how cheap convenience has replaced the costly sacred in your own home, and you will get angry. Because no one can repopulate our culture with the sacred better than you. However, if you believe someone else produces the trash piling up on your doorstep, you should think again. You can not blame the generation of the 1960’s. Only yourself. If you want to declare that you have faithfully honored the sacred, give yourself this test. The ultimate proof is in the artifacts your children generate. This fourth motion is your thorough declaration, the lasting fruit of your sacred seed that will remain on earth after your children are dead. Yes….I’m talking about ART.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”
- Leonardo DaVinci

“Art is to me the glorification of the human spirit, and as such it is the cultural documentation of the time in which it is produced.”
- Hans Hofmann

The role of the artist is to generate artifacts born of a sacred union between the physical and the spiritual. Such artifacts document our history with the sacred and keep the flame alive. Yet the sons and daughters we produce are not given any real understanding of the sacred. Our sons and daughters are being taught that artists who honor the sacred are to be ignored. Because for an entire century, no constituency has stepped forward to claim responsibility for properly sustaining their well being. We don’t mind seeing faithful Levites scrounge and starve. Meanwhile, the artists who deny their sacred duties enjoy the advantage of a constituency that pays great attention to their adolescent work. A constituency that sustains a culture that refuses to grow up.

What is wrong with this picture? How are you cultivating and honoring the sacred?

I wish I were more mature as a man and as an artist. But I do recognize my responsibilities as a Levite and prophet of culture. Therefore, I have declared my commitment to carry the sacred forward and grow up with anyone willing to endure the growing pains with me. Any culture that fails to honor the faithful among the Levites and prophets fails to honor the sacred.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cherokee Indian Rite of Passage

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our

Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, perhaps you took off your blindfold before dawn.

Moral of the Story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.

'For we walk by faith, not by sight.' ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7 ~

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More Dogs Than Christians

Love him or hate him but you just can't ignore him. The following is an interview with Mark Driscoll that I thought was worth passing on. Enjoy!

Seattle is among the least churched cities in America. It‘s a comment often said of the city and much of the Northwest, so when Mark Driscoll started Mars Hill Church in 1996 at age 25 he knew he had his work cut out for himself. If he had to catch the enthusiasm and interest of the people of Seattle, he apparently has done so and more. “The city itself tends to be very young. Most people are single, non-Christian, and in their 20s; that’s probably the majority of the city,” says Driscoll. “I think the denominations and the networks really thrived on the East Coast and in the South. It just seems like the denominations never really made it up to the Northwest.

“I grew up in Seattle. I think the church attendance here is about the same as Communist China. There are more dogs than Christians in the city.” Driscoll says. “So we have a lot of work to do.”

“Most churches in the city are very small, very liberal. A large portion of the churches in the city have gay pastors. Not just mainline, I mean the American Baptists, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, all of them.”

Driscoll can be blunt and disarmingly honest, which occasionally gets him into trouble. Like the time a couple years ago when Ted Haggard left New Life Church in Colorado under a morals cloud and Driscoll raised a furor with a comment about pastors’ wives letting themselves go in appearance.

Did he recall that? “Yes, unfortunately, I do.” Was there a time when he wished he hadn’t said it? “Yes, that would be a classic example of foot-in-mouth.”

In addition to a church planting organization, Acts 29 Network [], the Mars Hill Church has the Resurgence Missional Cooperative, where pastors and church leaders can go for resources and references. And there are conferences, the Web site and books written with Crossway Publishing.

Seattle magazine says you’re one of the 25 most powerful people in Seattle. How do you wield that power?

I don’t know. I’m just trying to serve Jesus, teach the Bible, love my wife and love my kids. I mean I’m a pretty simple guy. It’s been amazing what God’s done. We capped out at about 8,000 for Easter, which was the high point for us this year, attendance-wise. In our area that’s very unusual. I don’t think there’s ever been a church in our city that got anywhere near that.

How is it that your church is so different than every other church in town?

God has been gracious to us. I tend to be a Bible preacher, I preach for an hour- plus. We preach long, we have 16 services on six campuses.

The city created a zoning restriction just against churches. You’re not allowed to build a church more than 20,000-square-feet so you can build anything you want, except for a big church in Seattle. We had to spread across multiple locations, use video technology, live stream the sermon via television broadcast satellite. It’s been pretty complicated.

In the U.S. alone we’ve planted 125 churches; we also have churches overseas that we’ve started.

You’ve been called a cultural liberal while being theologically conservative. How does that play out in real life?

For us it means we take the Bible very, very, very seriously and everything to which the Bible speaks we absolutely believe. So we believe getting drunk is a sin, we believe sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin. We’re conservatives biblically.

When it comes to cultural issues like our music, we write most of our own songs and we use a lot of technology. I’m big on Facebook and MySpace, YouTube and iTunes. We’ll have 100,000 downloads of the sermon each week just off the Internet.

We don’t care if somebody’s got a tattoo. I don’t care if they’ve got a hog or are covered in piercings, I don’t care if they play in a band — the Bible doesn’t speak about those things — so we tend not to worry about them.

How literal do you get? The old Jonah and the whale thing, what do you make of that literalism?

Yep, Jonah was literally in a whale. Jesus says as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, he’d be in the grave. So it’s just as literal as Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to me.

We take it all literally, literal creation, literal Adam and Eve. We are a very conservative Bible-believing church, but if you walk in a lot of our people have Mohawks and piercings and tattoos and they’re smoking cigarettes and just became Christians. So they don’t look like your typical church crowd.

The demographics of your community are just the opposite. You’re literal and they’re very liberal. It doesn’t seem like it fits in your community.

It’s interesting because we’re telling them something they’ve never heard, we’re telling them something that they’ve never considered and they’re finding it appealing. Well over half of our church is single, but about a third of the people at our church, as far as we can tell, were raped or molested, they were sexually abused, most of them grew up in broken homes, their parents got divorced, they’ve used drugs and alcohol, they’ve got a history with pornography. And by the time we see them they’ve realized it’s just not a very happy, joy filled, satisfying way of life. And they tend to be open to something different.

What part of living the Christian life do young people just not get? What’s really on their minds?

I think they get the idea of community and being in relationships, of being part of a church and I think they understand sin. I think the things that they struggle with are believing that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that other religions are not equally right. The other thing they struggle with is gender issues and sexuality. Almost everybody we get is in sexual sin, homosexuality, adultery, fornication. Pornography is an epidemic. So the sexual sins are really the big ones that we deal with continually.

You’ve even had death threats as a result of your ministry?

At the church services we’ve had occasions where guys wanted to give death threats, we’ve have people try to get up on the stage to fight me, we had one guy pull out a machete and try to kill me while I was preaching. So now I’ve got security around the building and security off the stage.

You’re a specialist in multi-site. How is multi-site changing the Christian church?

They say that 80 percent of churches are plateaued or declining, that 3,500 die and close every year, yet we’re starting to see more and more large churches. So the hope is that the large churches would be able to adopt some of the struggling and smaller churches and revitalize them so that they won’t die. I think that one of the great points for multi-site is resourcing and helping struggling and dying churches.

For us we just saw so many people become Christians so fast that we couldn’t add any more services and the city wouldn’t let us get another building. We baptized a couple hundred people on any given day at various times in the history of the church, so for us multi-site campusing is necessary.

Multi-site media has worked very, very well for us. It has allowed us to spread out across the region, reach different parts of the city. Now we’re looking to going out of state and out of country with campuses. Ultimately it’s a new form of church planting where new congregations get started that are more than just overflow rooms for churches that have too much attendance.

What trends do you see in the Christian church in America, how should Christians look at the growth of the Muslim faith, the Mormons and secular humanism in the coming years?

It is distressing. I think what’s happened though is, particularly in urban centers, fewer and fewer people are having children and raising families. More and more I think you’ll see Muslims taking over major American cities.

It is the same with Mormonism. It keeps trying to reposition itself as just another Christian denomination. They’re trying to make it more like a denomination in appearance even though it’s not theologically.

I think too the biggest issue in the coming years is the younger generation doesn’t see the problem with things such as homosexuality and sex outside of marriage. And so you’re going to see the media pushing more and more to have gay pastors and to have same-sex marriages, even if they say they’re Christian.

What does it mean to “reach one’s community by living culturally accessible and biblically faithful lives”?

Our theme is that Christians need to function as missionaries. They need to imbed themselves in the culture, they need to love the people there, and they need to learn the culture, understand it and serve it. So our thinking is that when it comes to missions, missionaries are not people we send overseas. We need to keep sending them overseas, but we also need to send missionaries into American cities and neighborhoods as the cities are completely lost and don’t know Jesus.

We encourage our people to move into the city, live in the city, love the city, serve the city, start Bible studies, do ministry and bring the Gospel to the city.

Some people feel that living in the world, in the city, can be a corrupting influence, being in the world but not of it?

I think people are sinful whether they live in the country, the suburbs, or the city. Sinners are everywhere and the city tends to have more people so they tend to have more sin. But I think that means that it’s also a great opportunity for the Gospel because people there really need Jesus. And if we don’t reach the cities we’re not going to reach the young people, the universities, the politicians, the culture makers-as the cities get more and more secular the culture gets more and more secular.

Are there compromises to living in the city?

We’ve got five kids and it’s amazing at the grocery store or the restaurant when people come up and rebuke us for having too many kids.

In our area there are a lot of people who are committed to radical environmentalism, homosexuality and saving the planet. They feel it’s already over-populated and better just to be gay and not have any children and save the planet.

Your services are downloaded more than a million times a year?

Actually, millions and millions of times.

Because you’ve got great messages or good marketing?

We don’t do any marketing; we’ve actually never done any advertising. We’ve never hired an advertising firm or sent out mailers. I just preach and we put it on the Internet and I hope people download it because they want to learn the Bible and learn about Jesus.

How do you keep up with sermon preparations and still have time for media, conferences, writing books and magazine articles? Are you super organized?

I tend to be very personally organized and I’m really blessed to have a very good personal staff who takes the e-mails and the phone calls. I think the e-mail and the phone calls alone, those two things, can kill you if you’re a pastor.

The truth is I’m not that great at managing the staff. I did okay until the church was maybe 5,000-6,000 and then I just completely burned out. I don’t have the administrative gifts to take it beyond that, so I just have to be humble and back away, trust other people, give them power and authority, set them up for success, and stay out of the way.

For all your media coverage and notoriety, what do you wish people really understood about you?

That I’m a sinner who Jesus has been really good to and anything good that’s happened is because of Him and anything bad that’s happened is because of me.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Merry-Go-Round of Parenting

I friend of mine emailed this yesterday. It is something he had emailed to him. I don't know who sent him the email...I just know it is good! I don't know the author (William D. Tammeus) personally...I just know it spoke to me personally. Enjoy!

As my fathers planted for me, so do I plant for my children. - The Talmud

All of us have had parents (whether known to us or not), and most of us will have become parents before our lives are over. Most of us, therefore, will serve as some sort of bridge between the past generations and those of the future. In our finer moments, what we want is to be a worthy bridge: we want to pass along to our children the best of the parenting that we received.

Doing this is not easy. Parenting is one of the most difficult things any human being ever attempted. And having been told of its difficulty, we may have tried to learn how to do it before we had children, so that when we did have them, we’d know what to do. Yet parenting is a thing mostly learned by doing it. Just as our parents did, we find that we have to learn by trial and error.

Those who end up being good parents are those who are open to feedback, correction, and learning while the process is going on. It takes a commitment to being better parents as time goes by, always being eager to learn anything new that can help us improve. But not only that, good parents are those who realize that the clock is ticking. The skill must be learned as we do it, yet we don’t have an unlimited amount of time to get the hang of it. Our children are growing older every day, and our parenting opportunities are getting fewer.

Many modern parents would do better if we quit trying to use our children as adornments to our own egos and lifestyles and started seeing ourselves as expendable commodities meant to be used up for our kids’ benefit. “Parents are,” as Peter Ustinov said, “the bones on which children cut their teeth.” If we’re so full of “self” that we can’t see the sense in that, then we’ve got a ways to go before graduating from parent school. Parents must be willing to spend and be spent.

The parent-child relationship is one of life’s primary learning laboratories. It has important things to teach us about the rights and wrongs of human relationships and about what the good life is and isn’t. It’s worth giving every ounce of the very best effort within us.

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why
a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around
— and why his parents will always wave back.

William D. Tammeus

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This Life That I Call We

I woke up late (6:50) and rushed from the bed to shower to car. At the office before 8 (7:50) and moved through meetings calls and emails. I picked up my bride for the thousandth time, still opening the door. We dined with Vinny, shared a dish, he gave us a bottle of wine. It is our anniversary. A celebration of dedication. A meaningful remembering of a marriage that means more than all but Christ.

Kim and I agreed - no gifts this year.
But, Kim, I lied and I've given you a small gift. (this is in addition to earlier lie and the ultra romantic gift of a half a tank of gas you got)

I've stolen a pause from the purse of the present to give you a poem I wrote for you. I'm calling it "This Life That I Call We"

This Life That I Call We

Our wedding anniversary reminds my soul
Delight and beauty you’ve graced to me,
Sweet memories--each laugh, each tear,
Sweeter than the days of me …this life that I call we

We've prayed and loved ourselves a home

The two pouring out for our three,

And it's all because of the wonderful One

Who has given us this life…this life that I call we.

Desire, devotion draw me to you:

Your embrace decants ecstasy.
I fall asleep not knowing what life next holds,
I awaken grateful to live this life…the life that I call we.

Your baby still loves you just the way that you are:
Your glance and touch still brings a thrill to me.
I love you deeply, madly, and I will forever.

I love that me and you have this life…this life that I call we.