Monday, June 26, 2006

North American Christian Convention

Tomorrow I will be heading to Louisville, KY (home of the Christian Church "mother ship") to attend the North American Christian Convention. I'm looking forward to it, especially with the emphasis this year on seeking unity with the acapella brethren (this marks the 100th anniversary of "the split"). Will report when I return.

Tracy and I Enjoyed This One

Nothing will ever replace the Far Side, but Brevity comes close.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What's In a Name?

Several months ago my friend David Willis was ranting about stupid church names and how, in a desire to sound cool and relevant, they are embarrassing themselves. And that they are all using the same names (Adventure, Crosspoint, New Community, etc.). Ugh. You can always tell the non-conformists – they all look alike.

I just read in the Christian Standard that a church here in Indiana has changed her name from ____________ Christian Church to Connection Pointe Christian Church of ___________. Hoo Boy, I'm sure that the lost are going to come stampeding into that place now, especially since they added the letter "e" to "Point" (how very postmodern).

Another church (a new church plant) is calling itself Common Ground Christian Community. Yippee!

I’m not one who believes that there is only one correct name for a community of believers (I can hear the voice of a local preacher brother shouting, “Church of Christ – that’s right!”), but I do get a little honked off when new churches call themselves something other than Church of Christ or Christian Church for the express purpose of distancing themselves from “us.” I have actually had church planters tell me this. It’s funny that they don’t want anything to do with us until it comes time to get someone to fund their new venture.

But for dumb names, it's still hard to beat the New Paradigm Christian Church.

I Believe

Every once in a while I take a break from listening to SportsRadio and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and I go on a country music kick.Last week while I was driving to one of my favorite running paths, I heard the song Believe by Brooks & Dunn. Wow! I thought I was listening to someone singing in a church. The song tells the story of the faith of Old Man Wrigley. The words are powerful, especially the chorus:

I raise my hands, bow my head.
I'm findin' more and more truth
In the words written in red.
They tell me that there's more to life
Than just what I can see.

I can't quote the book,
The chapter or the verse.
You can't tell me it all ends,
In a slow ride in a hearse.
You know I'm more and more convinced,
The longer that I live...
Yeah, this can't be... no, this can't be...
No, this can't be all there is...

When I raise my hands, bow my head
Oh, I'm findin' more and more truth
In the words written in red.
They tell me that there's more to this
Than just what I can see.
I believe...... Ohh, I
I believe...
I believe. (I believe)
I believe...........

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Newport News -- Wow!

Tooled aound Newport News, VA yesterday. Man has this place changed in just three short years. The new City Center at Oyster Point is awesome. Got some good ice cream at Maggie Moos. Then we drove across Jefferson Avenune to Port Warwick. Very nice. But we have spent the bulk of our vacation just hanging out with friends.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Vacation in the Old Dominion

We're vactioning in Hampton, Virginia (where we lived and ministered for 12 years). No real agenda or big plans other than visiting with old friends and some family. We will be worshipping at our old church. Meeting my old buddy David Willis for lunch at one of our old haunts, the Rocky Mount Bar-B-Que House.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mr. T and Jesus

Last night I was channel surfing (which doesn't take long since after our household "cable-ectomy", we only have five channels) and I stumbled upon the religious station. I heard a familiar voice. Sure enough it was Mr. T (yeah, the "I pity the fool" guy). He was really fired up. He was ranting/preaching/talking on Clifton Davis' (from the old sitcom "Amen") show. He went off on a tangent about the DaVinci Code and how Christians have made Dan Brown a multi-millionaire. And he sounded like a total moron. "DaVinci didn't die for you (fool)! What's Mona Lisa got to do with anything?" It was a hoot!

Davis looked really uncomfortable when Mr. T started going off (which is really saying something because he has nutburgers on his show all the time). I was just waiting for Mr. T to say, "I pity the fool who won't give his life to Jesus."After a while, Mrs. Soren came in and said, "WHAT are you watching?" Now that's some quality entertainment!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N

Brian Jones posted an article on the Christian Church Today website (I’m guessing that it might appear in the Christian Standard at some point).

I appreciate his emphasis on what it really means to be a “disciple” of Jesus, but I think he overstates his case about the term “Christian.” What really honked me off was this sentence: “But it was a nickname non-believers gave us, and for some reason it unfortunately stuck.” Huh? If the Acts 11:26 passage (‘they were first called Christians at Antioch") was all that we had, his statement about it being a nickname of questionable origin might have a little validity (although it would still be speculative). But what about 1 Peter 4:16? “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” Praise God that we bear an unfortunate nickname that was given to us by unbelievers? I don’t think so.

What is with these guys who are writing for our brotherhood publications these days? They seem to have forgotten that some of us have actually studied the Bible and we can recognize a liberal load of touchy-feely, pragmatic crap when we see it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Can I Get an "Amen"?

I'm preaching a series on the 10 Commandments. Yesterday was, "Do not commit adultery." But I turned it around and took a more positive approach, "Keep Sex Sacred." It was definitely a PG-13 (at least) message. Very blunt (but tasteful). Anyway, I got more positive comments about it than I have received from any sermon I've preached here. But here's the kicker: Most of them came from elderly women! Go figure.

A few memorable lines:
  • "In the Garden, Adam and Eve had sex. Lots of it!"
  • "Sex was God's idea. Yep, He thought it up! He created some of the parts of our anatomy for only one purpose -- pleasure!"
  • (when talking about how men should starve their eyes) -- "But ladies, when it's time to look, let him look! You might say, 'Well, I don't like my body', but that's not what matters, what matters is the fact that he likes it. And trust me, he does."
  • "I believe that, biblically speaking, the key to a healthy and vibrant marriage is frequent and passionate sex."

After church Luke said, "Dad, you said the word 'sex' WAY TOO MUCH today."

At least the teens paid attention for once!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Wish I Had Said That

Patrick Mead is the Preaching Minister at the Rochester (MI) Church of Christ. I enjoy reading his blog (his other blog can be found here). Recently he posted about some disgruntled church members and the legacy we all we leave:

Leave a Hole

Warning: I can be a very blunt individual. It may indicate a lack of kindness, but I hope that isn't the case. I prefer to think of it as one individual defined diplomacy: "warfare by other means." This column about children, church, and Christians might seem harsh... but I'm writing it anyway!

A couple was furious with our church. We had gone to see what happened to them after someone noticed they'd been gone from our worship assembly for some time. "We aren't coming back," the husband said. "That is an unloving, cold church that claims to care about people but doesn't." I asked him on what basis he made that judgment and he replied, "We were gone four weeks from that church before anyone there even noticed. What kind of church doesn't even notice something like that?"

I replied, "What kind of person are you, that you could be gone for four weeks and the no one in the church could tell?" They were shocked by this 'attack' so I pressed on. "What work suffered because you stopped your ministry? What mission work ground to a halt because you withdrew your funding, prayers and support? Could it be -- just imagine with me a moment -- could it be that you never really were a part of the church? Could that be why your departure was unnoticed?"

I tell people -- and mean it -- that the Rochester Church is the warmest, friendliest, and most talented congregation I have ever worked with... but we don't make it easy to be a member here. All who come to be a part of us are called into the ministry and work of this body. They are expected to give and live as disciples, to be deeply involved in our work, and to be available to any other member who needs prayer or backup.

Kami and I built this into our children at an early age. As I have written before, we would often end the day with two questions: "Where did you see Jesus today?" and "What did you do for Jesus today?"

Let me rephrase this: make your life necessary. When you die, as we all will, you can either fill a hole or leave it. Your choice. I have no interest in filling a hole. I have a great interest in leaving one. Make you life something that gives, serves, and leads in such a way that when you are gone, it matters!!! I ask my staff and my children -- but mostly I ask myself -- "what difference did it make that you lived today? In what way did you do something that would have remained undone without you? Did your life matter today?"

Did you pray for someone fervently? Did you sacrifice some money or pleasure for another's benefit? Did you offer kindness and courtesy to someone everybody else ignored? Did you look for those who have been robbed and beaten by life and offer to them everything you had to help them as did the Samaritan?

People ask me how we raised our daughter to be such a sweet, dedicated, serving Christian and how we raised our son to be a noble, honorable, courageous man who is headed towards the officer's ranks in the Marine Corps. We challenged them to make each day an opportunity to make their life count. My son has written extensively on why he is going to serve in the uniform of the Corps. I will not quote that extensively here, but the gist of it is that everyone lives, but not everyone matters. Everyone dies, but most never lived for something bigger than themselves first.

And everybody fills a hole at death, but not everybody leaves one.

Tragedy Upon Tragedy

I can't stop thinking about the parents of a college student who was killed last month. A semi-truck driver fell asleep and crashed into a vanload of Taylor University (a local Christian College) students. Five people were killed. The coroner screwed up and sent one of the survivors to the wrong family, while another grief stricken family buried a girl whom they thought was their daughter. It's hard to explain -- you can read about it here.

So the one family is experiencing incredible joy, realizing that their daughter is, in fact, alive. While the other one is devastated, realizing that the one at whose bedside the have been standing is not even their daughter.

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today I made my first post on this blog. Man, time really flies. Thanks to my faithful readers (all three of you).