Sunday, July 31, 2005

Congratulations Ryno!

Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today. I have many fond memories of watching him play. He was Chicago's first beloved #23 (later Michael Jordan would bring fame to that number in a different sport).

The man quietly did his job every day.
Key stats: .285 career BA, 282 HR, 344 SB
Awards: NL MVP, '84, Gold Glove '83-'91, Silver Slugger '84-'85, '88-'92

His fielding percentage at second base is the highest for anyone who played more than 800 games at the position (.989). He did not make a throwing error in seven of his 16 big-league seasons -- is that incredible or what?

Way to go Ryno!

(By the way, it was a little scary today when I realized that this "old guy" is only six years older than me).

Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's Campmeeting Time

Last week we enjoyed a couple of days at the Hillsboro Family Camp. We have only missed a few times since 1987. It's always fun seeing old friends and hearing great preaching. I got to hear my friend Jeff Faull preach a couple of times. Also picked up a CD of one of Tony Sullivan's messages. Hillsboro had a big impact on me when I was a rookie preacher. I've had the opportunity to speak there twice, and Lord willing, will preach again next summer.

This week my son and I will join some other guys from our church at The Northmen. This meeting has a much different "flavor." It's all men & boys, camping out in the middle of the woods in northern Michigan (the nearest town is 12 miles away). No electricity or indoor plumbing (bathing is done in the creek). This too, is a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with old friends. More importantly, it's a great time for father & son bonding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hey, Girlie Man!

The book that my Wednesday morning Discipleship Group is reading now is called King Me. In one of the chapters, Steve Farrar laments what he calls the “feminization of our boys.” He writes, “Godly women can have a wonderful influence on young boys. But he needs a man in his life to show him what masculinity looks like.” The entire book, by the way, is about how fathers need to proactively and aggressively take the lead in mentoring, training, and discipling their sons to be men of God.

During the time I was thinking through the chapter, I happened to see another book in a Christian bookstore entitled, Why Men Hate Going to Church. I wondered if it didn’t contain a similar premise. Why is it that many churches have a disproportionate amount of women in them? Where are the men?

I think Farrar may be on to something. He writes, “Our sons need to be around masculine preaching and worship. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the importance of being a warrior for righteousness, or being aggressive in telling the truth regardless of the cost? More often the traits we hear lifted up are the more feminine traits: tenderness, compassion, sensitivity, and gentleness.” Wow!

He also talks about “feminized worship.” This is where the guy leading worship is soft-spoken, quiet and passive. And the songs talk about Jesus being “beautiful” or “lovely.’ Keith Drury calls these, “Jesus-is-my-girlfriend” songs. Farrar says, “Am I in a church or a spa? At a deal like that, you don’t bring your Bible, you bring your moisturizer.”

He talks about the pictures of Jesus. You know the ones – the soft, European-looking Jesus with the long, flowing hair and the manicured nails, and the flawless complexion. What’s up with that? He recalls looking at one of those pictures as a young boy and thinking, “Jesus is a Breck Girl!” John Eldredge dealt with this topic in Wild at Heart. His point was that we’re not going to attract men by lifting up a harmless, fluffy, Mr. Rogersesque, really nice guy as the model of Christianity.

I think these guys are right. A real Christian man is a manly man, and yes, there needs to be a tender, compassionate side to that man, but I don’t need to be a girlie man to be a godly man.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ed Youngisms

Brenton Balvin had some great quotes from from Ed Young of Fellowship Church.

I was first introduced to Ed at the Catalyst Conference a few years ago (not as in "literally, personally," but as in "hearing about him and listening to him").

Some of these are pretty good:
1. 'it not about my thingdom, but about his kingdom'
2. 'do I need that, or do I greed that'
3. 'the higher the predictability, the lower the connectivity'
4. 'when I bring God the best, the rest gets blessed'
5. 'we take the American Express to debt, we need to read the Masters Card, and then we get a Visa to financial freedom'
6. Offering is not about giving, it is about 'bringing it'
7. 'too many people are running around talking smack, but not doing jack'

I especially enjoyed #'s 3 & 7.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How's Your Swing?

Recently I came across an interesting concept on Len Sweet’s website. He wrote about the need for the church to remain rooted in the first century while living in the twenty-first century.

There is a new theory among physicists about how the swing works. Previous theories revolved around the principle of "parametric instability," which pivoted the action of swinging at the middle of the arc, and the rocking forward into a higher center of gravity. Physicist William Case, while watching how children actually swing, has now posited a new principle which physicists call "driven harmonic oscillator." The key to the swing is not in the middle of the arc, but at each end of the arc, where and when the swingers at the same time lean back and throw their feet forward.

That's my image statement. As a historian of Christianity, I want the church to lean back–not just back to the 50s, but all the way back through 2000 years of history, all the way back until we're, in the words of that Sunday School song, "Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." But at the same time and I do mean simultaneously, we must use that energy and power that comes from "learning to lean" to kick forward into the future.

I think that’s a wonderful image for the church I serve. We are part of the movement to restore New Testament Christianity. Biblical doctrine and principles are just as important and relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. The gospel of Christ is still powerful and life-changing. Our task is to engage our culture and build relationships with people, demonstrating the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. Let’s do it, for His glory!