Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas


But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I've written about this before, but it's the time of year for the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" debate. You have probably received at least one email or Facebook request ("We say 'Merry Christmas'") that bemoans the fact that "Christ is being taken out of Christmas" or some such. Really? Is this the hill we want to die on?

Jon Acuf writes a blog called Stuff Christians Like. I think his take on this issue is excellent:

I wasn’t going to write about this one. ...Until I saw the billboard.

Sunday night, driving home from vacation with my family outside of Atlanta, GA, I saw a new billboard.

On a background of festive red, with big white letters I read a simple message:

I miss you saying “Merry Christmas.” – Jesus

And that’s when, much like the mafia, just when I thought I was out, they dragged me back into the conversation.

I don’t have a problem with that billboard, but there are three things it calls to mind:

1. We invented the phrase “Merry Christmas.”
I’ve only read the Bible from front to back one time. I read it a lot, but from a “read through it straight in 2 years point of view” I’ve only taken one spin. But when I did, I swear I couldn’t find the phrase, “Merry Christmas” anywhere. That billboard kind of makes it seem like Paul said that while he was making tents before he went on his wild missions. “Making tents on Christmas Eve. That is completely bogus. No one even said ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. All these heathen tent makers all say, ‘Happy Holidays.’ So whack.”

2. How do we know Jesus misses that?

Maybe he does. Maybe he doesn’t. I honestly don’t know. Maybe Jesus would say things like “I miss hearing you say, ‘Let’s play some Frisbee golf’” or “I miss hearing you say that you pre-ordered the ‘Stuff Christians Like’ book.” I’m not certain, but I am certain that the times I’ve misquoted Jesus or put words in his mouth, in my mouth I’ve felt that feeling you get when you chew aluminum foil with metal fillings in your teeth. God isn’t technically striking me with lightning but He’s definitely firing up the lightning bolt 300 for imminent release.

3. We would be upset if someone else quoted Jesus for their cause.
If some other group made a billboard that quoted Jesus and that quote was not solidly based in the Bible, we would go spider monkey crazy. (You might rock out squirrel monkey style, but that’s really a personal preference thing.) If someone, even just for emphasis, quoted Jesus as supporting their cause and it wasn’t straight up Bible, we would be straight up upset.

I will see that billboard everyday during my commute, but I’m at peace with it. And there’s a pretty simple reason – It’s not belligerent. I always get a little weirded out when people aggressively make the distinction between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.” I completely understand the frustration with a culture that is actively and deliberately removing Christ at every given opportunity, but when we angrily say, “It’s ‘Merry Christmas, not happy holidays!’” we might as well say, “It’s ‘Merry Christmas,’ not happy holidays you jerk!” And that makes people want to celebrate winter solstice instead of whatever those grumpy, fight you on a vernacular level Christians are down with.

I promise.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"O give thanks to the Lord for He is good." I think Thanksgiving is in the running for my favorite holiday (Christmas is the other contender). I woke up this morning at my parents house with the aroma is turkey in the air. Homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee were on the breakfast table. Lots of family members are coming over later for Thanksgiving dinner. (I'm starting to see a theme here, and it revolves around food).

But I like the intended focus of the day -- thanking the Lord for His blessings(one of my pet peeves is when people call it "Turkey Day" rather than "Thanksgiving" -- I'm not a jerk about it, I just think people are missing the point).

So I encourage you to spend some time reflecting upon the Lord's goodness to you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 10 Reasons you DO NOT want Jack Bauer as your accountability partner.

I thought this was funny (courtesy of Bryan Allain's blog):

10. He refuses to speak until he’s patted you down for hidden weapons or wiretaps.

9. Tough to keep his attention when he’s constantly downloading building schematics on his phone.

8. He can’t really sympathize with your “tough week at home with the kids” because he almost died 6 times last week, and actually did die once but was revived by a stray power line that landed in his mouth.

7. He’s got television cameras following him everywhere. And insane terrorists. And the government. And an unlucky daughter.

6. He cancels half of your meetings with text messages like “Sorry cant make mtg. Undercover in Iraqi Prison making a shiv out of stale bread. Breakfast Monday?”

5. He’s always got the scent of danger and B.O. going, and it kind of makes you throw up in your mouth a little if you get too close.

4. Impossible for him to get through a meeting without jamming a needle full of truth serum into the base of your neck, which kind of hurts.

3. Too much yelling.

2. Tough to know how to respond to, “How I’m doing with God? HOW AM I DOING WITH GOD??? I KILLED 18 PEOPLE LAST NIGHT WHO WERE TRYING TO SMUGGLE A DIRTY BOMB INTO MIAMI, AND ONE OF THEM WAS MY FATHER! THAT’S HOW I’M DOING WITH GOD!”

and finally, the #1 reason you do not want Jack Bauer as your accountability partner…

1. When he finds out you’re lying to him…and he will…you’re dead.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Race Day






We had a lot of fun today, running and watching our friends/family run. The weather was perfect (cloudy and low 50's). Here are a few pics:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Richmond Race

I'm back in my old stompin' grounds in Virginia. I'll be running in the McDonalds Half-Marathon with some friends. Tracy is running the ntelos 8K, and my cousin Dave is doing the full marathon.

We have been here before (I did the full marathon in 2002 and the 8K in 2007). This is a very well organized race. We are looking forward to spending time with friends and family.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ed Stetzer

I recently started following Ed Stetzer on Twitter. This guy has some amazing insights:

* We've jazzed up the music, spiced up the sermons, and spruced up the buildings but the wheat still isn't harvesting itself.
* In church life, the people that are rocking the boat are hardly ever the ones rowing it.
* We can't experience the power of the gospel if we don't adhere to the teachings of its King.
* One cannot value the Kingdom of God & devalue the church. The church is the sign & instrument of the Kingdom.
* If you can learn to order at Starbucks, then you can learn theological language at church.
* Many churches never experience a comeback because they want the community to change while they remain the same.

Foxworthy Quote


If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.'
- Jeff Foxworthy

Friday, November 06, 2009

Talking Heads

So I'm siting home alone (Mrs. Soren is at a ministers' wives retreat and the kids are at a school function). Not many sports on tv (although that psycho soccer chick from New Mexico was "must see tv" on SportsCenter). So I'm channel surfing (mostly between the news channels). Some stations are overtly conservative and others are obvious mouthpieces for the DNC. I don't think I could take of steady diet of this every night. It gets old very quickly.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some Good Thoughts Here

excerpts from a post I liked (from Stands to Reason):

Halloween Worries, Doctrine Apathy

I'm surprised each year by the amount of concern and attention given to whether Christians should participate in Halloween, especially when the same amount of concern and attention isn't given to issues at least of equal weight and what I think have more weight. Many Christians delve into the details of the history of Halloween in a sincere effort to try to make a good decision about what's pleasing to God; I just don't see the same time and attention given to studying the details of central Christian beliefs like the Trinity or justification…

I'm not talking about the decision Christians make about what to do about Halloween. That's a matter of conscience each has to make. I'm talking about the inordinate energy, attention, thought, and focus spent on what to do about Halloween and the polar opposite apathy about theology, doctrine, church history… What I'm talking about is the level of energy and attention given to it and the contrasting lack of it given to arguable more central issues of Christianity. Christians can be shocked that another Christian will go trick or treating, but not blink an eye of awareness or concern when another Christian distorts…doctrine.

I'm not sure what this inordinate worry over Halloween and apathy about doctrine says about contemporary Christians, but I think it says something - and it's not good. One friend's theory is the inordinate emphasis in modern Christianity on application and therapeutic teaching to the near exclusion of theology and Bible study (not just Bible reading). That sounds like a pretty good theory to me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday's Sermon

I'm currently preaching a sermon series from the book of 1 Timothy. This coming Sunday's message will deal with the topics of modesty, gender roles, and elder qualifications. I probably should have planned a sermon for each subject, but they are sequential in the text and I will deal with them as we work through the passage. It is amazing how much material has been written about these topics, particularly gender roles and the eldership. But the plain reading of Scripture seems to leave no doubt about God's point of view. But like my friend John Mitchell says, "Some people need professional help in order to misunderstand the Bible."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trolls


From Seth Godin's Blog:

Lots of things about work are hard. Dealing with trolls is one of them. Trolls are critics who gain perverse pleasure in relentlessly tearing you and your ideas down. Here's the thing(s):

1. trolls will always be trolling
2. critics rarely create
3. they live in a tiny echo chamber, ignored by everyone except the trolled and the other trolls
4. professionals (that's you) get paid to ignore them. It's part of your job.

"Can't please everyone," isn't just an aphorism, it's the secret of being remarkable.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lifelong Learners

When I was in Bible College, a guest spoke in chapel and remarked, “One can visit the average minister’s study, glance at his library, and know what year his brain died.” Although he intended the line to be humorous, it has stayed with me all these years later. That day I determined to never reach the place where I thought I had “arrived” or reached the pinnacle of biblical knowledge. I wanted to be a lifelong learner.

One of the many traits to admire about the early leaders of the Restoration Movement is that they never stopped searching for a more accurate understanding of the Scriptures. It was this thirst for knowledge and hunger for truth that led them to challenge the traditions of their denominational upbringing. Even after determining to forsake sectarian names and be known as “Christians only” and follow the Bible only, they continued to modify, develop, and deepen their theological convictions as their understanding of God’s Word increased. For example, Alexander Campbell’s views of important issues like baptism, communion, and church polity were developed over a period of several years. Biblical truth did not change, but he did, as he consistently asked the question, “What does the Bible really teach about this particular doctrine?” Others asked the same question in their quest for truth. For 200 years, Restoration churches have been encouraging people to follow their example. When one asks that question, and seeks a truthful answer, a change of mind in sometimes in order.

The fact that lifelong learners sometimes change their convictions should come as no surprise. Biblical faith is more accurately described as a journey rather than a destination. New Testament teaching about discipleship and faith development commands believers with terms like grow and strive and add to your faith. Hebrews 6:1 says, “…let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” Some of the epistles were written with the purpose of correcting improper or incomplete beliefs about Christ and His church. Prominent biblical characters are shown that their thinking is not quite right about a given topic (e.g. Peter receiving a vision about God accepting the Gentiles in Acts 10; Apollos being taught more accurately about Christian baptism in Acts 18).

Those that want to go deeper in their walk with the Lord would do well to follow the example of the Berean Christians mentioned in Acts 17:11, “…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” We must be willing to do the very thing that we encourage our religious friends and family members to do – look to the Bible for the answers. Lifelong learning is a challenge, but it is also a joy. And it is our responsibility: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Burglar Busted After Checking Facebook During Crime

FORT LOUDOUN, PA - Add burglars to the list of people that are addicted to the social networking site Facebook.

Pennsylvania police busted 19-year-old Jonathan Parker after he broke into a home last month and accidentally left his facebook page open on the victim's computer.

Investigators said Parker likely squeezed through a bedroom window and while inside swiped two diamond rings worth $3,500.

When the victim came home, she alerted authorities after finding her home ransacked and her computer on with an unfamiliar Facebook account on the screen.

Turns out, the victim and the suspect had a mutual friend, who later confessed to authorities that Parker had asked him to help carry out the crime.

Parker remains in police custody on $10,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years behind bars.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Revival Time

I’m in Shoals, Indiana this week preaching at a Revival Meeting with the Shoals Christian Church. My friend Matt Sullivan is the preacher here. I have not been to this part of the state before. It is beautiful. Driving down here this afternoon was a gorgeous sight. Rolling hills, fall foliage, sun shining – it made for a scenic trip. Pray for me, that I might preach messages that will be encouraging and challenging to the people. I’m looking forward to the fellowship with Matthew and his family.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fort-4-Fitness


This morning I ran the Fort-4-Fitness half-marathon. I ran pretty slow, but I was glad to finish. It was overcast and cool -- perfect running conditions. The support at this race was amzing (water/gatorade, encouragers, bands, extras, etc).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Long Should You Preach?

Years ago I heard someone ask John Maxwell, “How long should I preach?” Maxwell responded with, “How good are you?” There is probably some truth to the old adage, “there’s no such thing as a bad short sermon” (although I think I have heard a few, and probably have preached some). I once heard Bob Russell share his sermon length formula with a group of preachers. He said: Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. Now subtract 2 (since most preachers overestimate their ability). And multiply by five minutes. So if a guy estimates that he is an “8”, he drops it down to a “6” and multiplies by five minutes – that equals a 30 minute sermon.

We are told that people have short attention spans these days, so we should preach short(er) messages (my sermons average about 25 minutes). Yet I listen to preaching podcasts of some of the fastest growing churches in America – guys like Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll, and Perry Noble, and they regularly preach for nearly an hour – sometimes even longer than that (well, mostly Driscoll). These lengthy sermons don’t seem to be hindering the growth of their churches. What’s the deal?

What say you? What is the perfect sermon length?

Friday, September 18, 2009

60th Anniversary of my Alma Mater


Tonight I will be traveling to Great Lakes Christian College to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the school. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and former professors. It's hard to believe that it has been 22 years since I left the halls of learning and began an education that can only happen in the real world of ministry. Still, I have fond memories of GLCC (after all, that's where I met Mrs. Soren!).

Monday, September 14, 2009

We're on iTunes

If anyone is interested, you can now subscribe to my sermons via iTunes. Simply go to the iTunes Store and enter Cedar Creek Church of Christ into the search bar. It will give you the option Cedar Creek Church of Christ (Eric Bass). Click that and you are good to go.

Friday, September 11, 2009

God Bless America

Never Forget

Eight years ago, I was in Missouri preaching at a Revival. I remember hearing on the radio that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. Thinking it was a small plane, I thought, “That’s strange.” My host gave me a tour of the area that morning. It wasn’t until lunchtime that we heard what happened. We scrapped the Revival plans and simply has a prayer service that night.

This morning I thanked God for protecting our country over these past eight years, grateful for the men & women who serve to ensure our freedom and safety. America, don't take anything for granted. And don't forget September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Warren Woods


Yesterday while visiting my hometown of Three Oaks, MI, I went to Warren Woods. I actually went twice – the first time, I ran through the woods, remembering my Cross Country days (the woods was part of the High School CC course). I returned later for a leisurely walk with Mrs. Soren. I wondered how many times I had run through those woods without pondering the beauty of God’s creation. This time I took the time to wonder at His Majesty.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; Psalm 96:11-12

Friday, September 04, 2009

Garage Sale

Mrs. Soren has been wanting to have a Garage Sale for some time now. We finally got a lot of stuff ready (clothes, CDs, old couches, TVs, etc). There has been a steady stream of people all morning long. One man's junk is another man's treasure, right? It's amazing what people will buy. I said to her last night, "I hope we make some decent money." She replied, "What do you mean, 'WE'? Oh, right. It must have someone other than ME who lugged a couch and loveseat up from the basement (with the help of a reluctant 14 year old boy). But I'm over it now :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brian J. Kjergaard (1975-2009)

FULTON, Ill. — Brian J. Kjergaard, 33, of Fulton, died Saturday, August 22, 2009, at Covenant Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, August 28, at the Chancy Lutheran Church in Clinton, Iowa. Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Pape Funeral Home, Clinton.

Brian was born in Clinton on October 31, 1975, the son of John and Pam McLaughlin Kjergaard. He graduated from Clinton High School in 1994. Brian married Keitha Stange on January 1, 2006, in Thomson, Ill. He most recently worked as the manager of Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo. He had also been employed at DeWitt Lanes. As an accomplished bowler, Brian was a member of the Professional Bowlers Association. He had won three regional P.B.A. titles, bowled 33 perfect games, and had numerous 800 series. Brian was an avid sports fan with baseball and the New York Yankees as his favorite.

Brian is survived by his wife, Keitha; a daughter, Emma; a stepdaughter, Alyssa Pessman; his parents, John and Pam Kjergaard, of Clinton; a brother, Mike (Tracy) Kjergaard, of Spencerville, Ind.; two sisters, Deb (Shawn) Cram, of McKinney, Texas, and Karyn (Joe) Luskey, of Fulton; and four nieces and a nephew. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Jurgen and Kate Kjergaard and Tom and Hilda McLaughlin, and a cousin, Rick Ruddy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back-to-School Bash



For the past several years our church has hosted a Back-to-School Bash. We have games and food and prizes and music and a carnival for our community. It's always a lot of fun. If you are in the area, join us anytime between 11am-3pm and Celebrate Christ at the Creek!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Home Church

Somehow I stumbled upon this picture of my home church in Three Oaks, MI (apparently someone thought it was quaint and posted the pic online). It brought back some memories. The building is tiny, but the faith of the people is large. In that little building I learned about Jesus. I saw people who really lived for Him. I learned to worship and pray and fellowship. I preached my first sermon there. And found great encouragement to enter the ministry. Thank you, Three Oaks Church of Christ, for the big part you played in my spiritual formation.

The Don't Song

The guys at our Men's Breakfast enjoyed this.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Home Again

The Northmen was great. We had the best weather we’ve had in years (although I must admit that waking up in a tent with the temps in the lower 40’s was not what I expected). I got to hear some of my friends preach, and I enjoyed the fellowship with the guys from Cedar Creek. It was fun hanging with my son too. Tracy and Lindsey got to experience The Northwomen for the first time. They enjoyed it. But it is good to be back home.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Northmen

Heading up to The Northmen today. It is an annual campmeeting for men & boys in Northern Michigan. It is very primitive. We camp out in the middle of the woods (the nearest town is 12 miles away). No electricity or indoor plumbing (bathing is done in the creek). The Northmen is a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with old friends. More importantly, it's a great time for father & son bonding. Luke and I have gone several times. It is always a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Running Community

I ran in a 10K race this morning. It was a small race (about 180 runners), part of Harlan Days (a little community festival). I have been running for years, and today I was reminded why I love the running community. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, fast or slow -- there is an esprit de corps among runners. Case in point -- long after the race was "over" -- while the awards were being given (near the finish line) an exhausted looking, overweight guy crossed the finish line. The loudest cheer of the day went up for this man. "Good job dude!" "Way to go!" I'm sure he felt encouraged. A few minutes later, a woman finished. More cheers and high fives. Ya gotta love it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hillsboro Family Camp

We're in Hillsboro, Ohio for Family Camp. Can't stay all week, but we came down tonight and heard Ray Bennett and Matt Proctor. Ray is a friend and one of my faves (I remember hearing him at my first Family Camp -- I had never heard preaching like that before. Wow!). I've heard Matt Proctor twice in the last month. He's very good. I have a lot of fond memories of Family Camp. When I was a newbie preacher, Hillsboro had a huge impact on me. It's good to be here if even for a short time. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Twitter


So I finally caved and decided to try Twitter. See link on sidebar to follow me on Twitter. I have no idea what I'm doing, so any advice from you Twitterers would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Matter of Interpretation

Here's my latest article for reIGNITED:

One of the principles that our Restoration Movement forefathers like Alexander Campbell put forth was the concept of “individual private interpretation.” This is the idea that the Bible can be understood by the average person. The concept did not originate with Campbell. Reformers like Martin Luther and Bible translators like John Wycliffe, John Hus, and William Tyndale believed that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language. This ran counter to the belief that the Bible should only be read and taught by learned scholars and/or members of the clergy.

Campbell believed that it is the duty of each Christian to honestly and diligently study the word of God with the best helps available, and to walk in the light of divine truth as God gives him the ability to see that light. He insisted on the individual’s right to interpret Scripture. In his debate with John Walker, he complained about clergy who did not trust the laity to do this correctly. He said, “Go home and read your Bibles; examine the testimony of those holy oracles, and judge for yourselves, and be not implicit followers of the clergy.” Campbell (and Barton W. Stone) had a strong faith in the ability of lay people to read, interpret, and understand the Bible properly. The New Testament gives an example of people who verified the words of the preacher by checking the Word of God. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV).

There are some inherent dangers with the idea that each person can interpret the Bible for himself or herself. On several occasions, as I have been talking to people about the Bible, they have dismissed differences with the statement, “Well, it’s all a matter of interpretation.” Their basis for this assertion is that all interpretations of Scripture are equally valid. Common sense tells us that this cannot possibly be true. Another example is the Small Group Bible Study or Sunday School class that reads a passage of Scripture followed by the leader asking, “What does this passage mean to you?” This generally results in numerous and widely diverse responses that often have little relevance to the text. A more pertinent and appropriate question is, “What did this mean to God?” or “What does the Lord want me to do?”

The privilege of reading the Scripture cannot be separated from the responsibility of using sound principles of hermeneutics (i.e. the science of interpreting the Bible correctly). Members of Restoration Movement churches were once known as “the people of the Book.” Wouldn’t it be great to see that reputation restored? The admonition that the apostle Paul gave to young Timothy seems just as fitting now as it was in the first century: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Faithful Christians

The last few posts have lamented the fact that there are believers who don't quite "get it" when it comes to being true disciples of Jesus. While there have been Vampire Christians, AA Christians, and Peter Pan Christians in every generation; there are also Faithful Christians -- people who love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength. These are the folks who keep the church going and keep the preacher pumped up about ministry. These are people want to use their giftedness and calling for the building up of the Kingdom of God. The New Testament lists people like Barnabas and Lydia and Onesiphorus - faithful Christians. In nearly every epistle, the Apostle Paul commends people like this.

I'm so thankful that there have always been these people in my ministry. Folks who have prayed for me and encouraged me and ministered with me. People who have the joy of the Lord in their lives. Preacher, don't take these folks for granted. Appreciate their faithfulness to the Lord.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peter Pan Christians

Several years ago I heard a guy preach about Christians who are afflicted with the "Peter Pan Syndrome." You remember Peter Pan -- he never grew up. Too many believers fall into this category. While it may have been 20 or 30 years since they were saved, they do not have the maturity of a 20 or 30 year old Christian. The reality is that they have been a Christian for one year, 20 or 30 times.

This is nothing new.

Paul addressed it with the church at Corinth: "But I, brothers,could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The Hebrew writer chastised his readers for the same thing: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity..." Hebrews 5:12-6:1

What do you do with Peter Pan Christians? How do you help them grow up?>

Friday, July 10, 2009

AA Christians

Yesterday I blogged about Vampire Christians (i.e. those who are only interested in Jesus’ blood – salvation). Shortly afterwards I was listening to a sermon by Patrick Mead in which he spoke of AA Christians. He meant those who judge their spirituality by Attendance and Abstinence. The idea that if I attend services regularly and abstain from certain “big sins”, then I’m a “good Christian.” Mead asked, “Is that really why you were given the Holy Spirit? So you could be a moderately good citizen?” Ouch!

Our church staff has been discussing this. I am reluctantly having to admit that it isn’t 1979 anymore, and the church landscape has changed. My life experience has been that life revolved around the Lord and His church. And good Christians planned their lives/schedules accordingly. Christ and the church were a high priority. My experience differs from some folks I have known. Whereas they were threatened with, “You’d better attend church and behave a certain way or you are in danger of hellfire”; I was brought up with the attitude, “Why wouldn’t a person want to do this? Christianity is great. The Lord is good. Service is simply something that believers do.”

I’m not sure that world exists anymore. This is the challenge for the suburban church. Busy lives. Crowded schedules. Relatively happy and secure people who are simply “adding Jesus” to their seemingly good lives. Consequently, church leaders are finding that the level of commitment is not what is was in previous generations. At least it seems that way. I feel the tension between the desire to “raise the bar of discipleship” while at the same time trying to reach as many as possible. How many times can a guy say, “Bless your heart, Jesus went to the cross and you can’t even get your butt out of bed to come to the church work day!”? Okay, I haven’t said it publically. Quite like that. Yet.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Vampire Christians

Recently I came across the term “Vampire Christians” – (I think it was Dallas Willard who coined the phrase). Erwin McManus put it like this, “The entire focus of our faith has been the elimination of sin, which is important but inadequate; rather than the unleashing of a unique, original, extraordinary, wonderfully untamed, faith.” Vampire Christians are people who are only interested in Jesus for His blood, but not for life change. One in effect says to Jesus: “I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.”

Church, we have to do better than this. Because you know what vampires do best? They suck.

Friday, July 03, 2009

NACC: Day Four

Things wrap up this morning. I'm going to Dr. Cottrell's workshop again.

Last night's session was terrific. Matt Proctor, President of Ozark Christian College preached an outstanding message (by far, the best one of the week). The night ended with a concert by Casting Crowns. Wow! One of the things I observed was that several "Senior Saints" stayed for the concert. I don't know if they knew what they were getting into; surely it wasn't their favorite style, but I admire them for being there and for staying for the duration. Casting Crowns rocked! It was LOUD (especially by older folks' standards), but they stayed. They must have appreciated the lyrics and the fact that so many young people were worshiping Jesus. And I think some of them actually liked it. "Lord, when I am old, give me that same spirit."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

NACC: Day Three


The day began with a Bible Study led by Dr. Jack Cottrell. It was good to hear my old Prof. again. Later, I heard Dr. Johnny Pressley do a workshop about the Lord's Supper. It was excellent. The only disappointment was hearing the morning speaker talk about people coming down the aisles at his church and "praying to receive Christ." I know the brotherhood is diverse and the NACC is supposed to be a "big tent." But where do they find these guys from "our churches" who have sold out on the plan of salvation? It makes me so angry that it would be unwise to put my feelings into words (put I would include: spineless, capitulating, fence-straddling, compromising, limp-wristed, gutless, etc.). I wish Dr. Cottrell's workshop tomorrow could be presented from the main stage: Saved by Grace, Saved in Baptism. Some of us still believe it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

NACC: Day Two

I'm skipping the afternoon workshops to work on Sunday's sermon (and to update my blog).

I remember my first NACC from a few years ago (other than the one I attended when I was 10). I was like a 12-year-old kid at the MLB All-Star Game: “There’s Ben Merold. And there’s Bob Russell. And I think that’s E. Ray “Cotton” Jones and Wayne Smith.” Even we preachers can get a little star-struck sometimes. Even in my forties, I can be somewhat intimidated by the brotherhood “biggies.” But they are simply men:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthian 3:5-7

NACC: Day One

We arrived safely in Louisville, checked into our room, and scoped out the downtown area for awhile before going to the evening session. The worship was outstanding! There's just something about thousand of people praising the name of Jesus -- a preview of Heaven. Jeff Stone did a good job preaching about grace. Afterwards, we strolled through the display area and connected with several old friends. We're looking forward to another great day today.

Monday, June 29, 2009

North American Christian Convention


Tomorrow Tracy and I will travel to Louisville, KY to attend the North American Christian Convention. It is an annual gathering of folks from Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. There is great worship and preaching and teaching; informative workshops and fantastic fellowship. When I lived in Virginia it seemed that the NACC was always too far way to attend, but I have been able to go several times since returning to the Midwest. This will be Tracy's first time. We're looking forward to it.

I will post updates throughout the week.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy Lightning Strike

At about 25 seconds. This was taken as we were driving home from vacation. Lightning got a telephone pole just as we were passing by.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary to the Blog

I don't know how I missed it, but as of June 1, I have been blogging for four years. In my very first post I wrote these words:

I don't know how this blog will develop. I will probably post some funny stories along with everyday life type of stuff. Maybe an occasional serious discussion.

Life is like calling in a reliever from the Cubs bullpen. Ya never know what you're gonna get.


That is how it has turned out so far. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Washington Nationals Game



After spending some time at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, we took the Metro over to Nationals Park. Some guy had some extra tickets ($50 tix that we got for $10 each -- awesome seats just five rows from the field). Nats beat the Reds 3-2.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday in D.C.



Spent some time at Union Station today. I knew that Ebenezers's (the coffee shop owned by National Community Church) was nearby, so we stopped in to get a cup.