Thursday, April 30, 2009

Luke 1:1-4

Noah keeps spitting when we feed him. Here he spit water up in the air like a fountain.

So I've decided that would be a great title for the blog. I think that one will stick. Melissa loves the name Theophilus for some reason and I just like the point, and the meaning of the name "beloved of God." I am writing for you, beloved of God. I've been having quite a few thoughts on these verses. I'll talk about them tomorrow I think.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Sleeping Beauty

This picture is great because of the curly hair flipping out at the sides. Actually, when we were in Canton someone asked Melissa if we curled his curl. Huh? Curl a boys hair? Is that actually done?

Funny night again last night with Melissa. When I came to bed (about 20-30 minutes after her), I walked into the bedroom and she shot straight up in bed. It was like the Undertaker from WWF if you know what I mean. She said "are you my husband?" I kind've laughed and said "yeah babe it's me." Then when I got into bed she said "Come here sweety pie" and gave me a kiss. Hilariously she remembers none of this. Still, the best part was five minutes later. I was laying on my back, and rolled over, with my back to her. She immediately, and I'm talking 1 second here, cups both her hands over both my ears. It scared the jeepers out of me. She said "Be careful, if he reaches to far sometimes he falls over and hits his head." I said, "ok, thanks honey, I think he's ok." She responded, "oh, ok." I laughed for a minute or so and then finally got some sleep without getting mauled, praise Jesus. I love my wife. Pray for me that she doesn't ever totally hallucinate and hurt me or anything.

Should be a good day today: support calls, daddy time, a bit of cleaning, a few errands, and a few support organizational things.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yes drill sergeant!

Down... One... Hold... Down... Two...
This is what happens when mommy isn't home. We workout together.
Still having fun enjoying Luke. I'll be posting more thoughts about it in the days to come I'm sure.
Melissa and I have been watching a bit of tv together lately. Actually, we've watched virtually nothing on an actual tv, we watch almost everything online. and the like has become our television. We'll probably watch 24 tonight (so no spoilers!), though to be honest I don't really like the show that much anymore. It's become kind've old hat. I'm secretly (not so anymore I suppose) hoping Jack dies this season so it'll just end. We also liked Heroes at the beginning but now that's also become rather dull. I'm rooting for Sylar to kill everyone; is that bad? My favorite show currently is probably Survivor, which is surprising to me. I hate the scheming and manipulation, but I tend to love the moral struggle. JT this past week, for instance, you could tell he was in turmoil. Do I stab these people just to put myself in a better position to win the money? It's crazy the things people will do just to win a game. Integrity, nah, who cares? It's just a game right? Often I wish I was on that show just to be someone that was actually honest the entire time. And another show we just watched a couple episodes of is "What would you do?" They create these situations (teenagers vandalizing a car, passed out drunkman, people without money for gas etc) and then see what people will help and others that ignore people or issues. I also love the moral struggle in this show. The host sometimes traps people and says things like, "why didn't you help?" The answers are typical, "it wasn't my place" or "I was scared" or "what could I do?" It's ridiculous, really. I should probably not watch that show because it only infuriates me more about the american culture. Sin, really, is what makes me cringe watching that show. Are you serious, some lady just passed out on the street and you're going to continue to walk right past her?! Their are black kids sleeping in a car in the park, while white kids spray-paint a car in the parking lot and you called the police on the black kids?! Are you for real? Ok, rant over. Check it out though, if you don't believe sin is real and people are ridiculously selfish that show may make you think.
On a totally unrelated note, I loved the Browns draft. They trade down multiple times, which I liked, and then they drafted guys I also like. Everyone keeps complaining about our draft but I don't get. Our first three picks were all academic all-americans, and all super high-quality guys. Those are guys I want to root for. Compare it to the Bengals draft, for instance. They drafted a bunch of character question-mark guys with extreme athleticism. Sure, they may be better pros, but do you really want to root for them? I like what Mangini has done so far, and I didn't think I'd say that. I like the Robiskie and Massaquoi picks because Braylon is gone next year at the absolute latest. Receivers need time to grow, rookie WR's simply don't get it right away. I like the Mack selection. The guy was the best C in the draft, a position we need, and he'll anchor our line with J. THomas and Steinbach for the next 5-10 years. Even Veikune I like. And then they grabbed a FA rookie QB in Graham Harrell, who himself was an academic all-american. See a trend? I read an article about the way the Browns partially evaluated Mack. They taught him a bunch of plays, then they watched film for a bit, and then had him meet a bunch of coaches and current players. As these coaches were questioning him with things, they immediately starting quizzing him on the plays they talked about 30 minutes ago to see if he could learn quickly on the fly. Obviously they care about smart guys and I'm down with that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Great morning, great day!

Again I'm excited it's Monday. Thank you Lord for newness. Thank you for the moment by moment and day by day renewal that can be found in you. Thank you that you make all things new. You are a King worth serving.

I spent a good deal of time reading Luke this morning. What a glorious book! For whatever reason, I often forget why I do what I do. That, or I just simply make my relationship with God more about ministry and doing things rather than just enjoying the historical person of Jesus. The book opens with Jesus' proclamation of freedom for captives. The day of the Lord's favor, he says, has arrived! Then he models, teaches about, and embraces to His death, the upside-down kingdom. This upside-down kingdom is something, sadly, that I have given shockingly little credence to lately. For me, life has been about a power struggle in many ways; power and authority in the house, and power and authority with other Christians at church. My pride has elevated myself and demanded respect, admiration and worship, really. In complete honesty and brokenness, my heart has been crying, "I am a missionary, give me respect, look up to me!" Add along that the part of me saying, "Woe is me! We are raising support in this economic climate; I will mope around and hang my head. Perhaps that way we will get attention; perhaps we will get compassion." The wretchedness of my heart makes me virtually sick to my stomach. My selfishness and pride are crushing me. But Christ, this morning in Luke, has met me and tore that part of my heart wide open. He proclaims that greater is he that serves; the humbled shall be exalted, the weak shall be made strong, the one who is broken and crushed, he will be exalted. The least shall be greatest, and he that serves will be the most.

Lord, let me be the least; let me serve and love. Let me not look at Melissa and others and think "what has she done for me today?" but let me embrace the cross, embrace meekness, and declare "what can I do to let her know I love her? What can I do to let her know you are crazy about her and adore her, father?" Let me be broken; let me be a servant. Let me lay aside my rights, lay down my authority, lay down my pride and pick up your love. Let love flow from me in moments I am betrayed, and in moments in which my heart is crushed. Make me strong in you to passionately and vigorously love those that are nailing my very hands to the cross. Let me embrace those that spit in my face.

So, I urge you to consider setting your eyes on the freedom giver today, as I have. Behold, He is making all things new! Make our hearts new, Lord!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fun day

It's been a fun day thus far with Noah and my bride. Man I love these two. Though I admit Noah was driving me bonkers when I was feeding him his lunch of asparagus. He kept spitting them everywhere. I kept trying not to laugh and reinforce him but I couldn't help it. We measured him today and he's 27 inches tall, closing fast on Frodo!

We have a turkey in the oven right now; yeah that's right, a turkey. We've done this every so often since we've been married. Melissa knows it's my favorite meal, so we do turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I spent an hour or so making support calls this morning and hope to do more shortly. Pray for us if you can, we'd really appeciate it. Man do we want to get back on campus.

Also the NFL draft is today, so I'm pretty pumped about it. I normally don't care much, but the Browns could be doing quite a bit of wheeling and dealing in a couple hours so it should be interesting. I hope they trade D. Anderson and get a couple picks (maybe a 2 and a 3 or 4 next year?), and trade down from the 5th overall to grab a couple more (maybe a lower 1 this year and a 2 this year or next?). We've got a ton of talent to acquire because we're lacking it almost completely, ha! So I'm ok with building so, but intelligently.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Time with Savvy (posted by Melissa)

Awww, how sweet.....and then there's the mauling.
Sorry, he's a boy. What do you expect?
And no, her name is not Savvy. It's Savannah, but Bart is convinced that he should call her Savvy. It should get more fun for the 2 of them when they can actually interact instead of us just shlumping them together for a picture.

I'm excited to say that in 2 short weeks, I will be cutting back to just 2 days a week at the law firm. We need the extra time to work on support. With having Noah, that complicates things, so it will help Bart have an extra day to get things done. And we're hoping I will be done all together in July. We just really want our support to come in. Please continue to pray for us. We really want to be doing ministry as soon as possible.

On a side note, anyone ever have trouble at night doing weird and random things that you're not wanting to do? It seems like it's becoming almost a nightly occurance where I am grabbing Bart or pulling the covers thinking Noah's in bed with us. And he never is! Am I losing it? Is it sleep deprivation? Any recommendations? Anyone else have this problem? Last night I remember in the middle of one of my excursions "looking" for Noah, Bart said "he's in his crib." I'm glad one of us is sane at night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We're mobile!

Uh oh, look out world! Noah is crawling!

Little bit of everything

Oops! I think I left him a bit to long in his high-chair. Poor little buddy.

We had a tough day yesterday, him and I. He was just sort've cranky all day; as was I. Not good naps, didn't eat very well, and a few times he just threw hissy-fits if I took something away from him (like the computer cord or the camera). By the time Melissa got home from work, I admit I was relieved to pass him off. Perhaps that's not the greatest of servant-hearts, but I was cooked.

We just got back from Canton over the weekend, and we really had a good time. It was also a pretty productive weekend with support, so that's encouraging. We got to spend time with Savannah, Noah's 4 month old cousin, so that was nice; I'll have Melissa post some picture of the two of them, cause they sure are cuties. It was also nice to hang with the family. My brother had his "man shower" while the women went to his fiance's bridal shower. Really, we just played poker and ate meat; what could be more manly than feeding our faces carnivorously?

Currently I weigh 202 lbs, and feel pretty good about it. My goal is to be around 185ish by July, or at least that's what I set my goal to be on the WiiFit. The average is something like -2.7 lbs every two weeks, which is definitely doable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I'm back to reading "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn again. Long book, but man is it good. I took a hiatus for a while. I tend to do that with a vast majority of the books I read. The reader of this blog should note that as a strike to both my perserverance and my flight from procrastination. My how my inadequacies abound!

I long for Heaven. I've been dabbling with the idea of brainstorm-writing narratives I keep imagining about Heaven. Fear, doubt and self-preservance have stopped me I believe, but I think perhaps I will do it soon. Some encouragement might help ;) Many books have been written about our eternal destination, a few accurately and many more terribly inaccurately, but I think I will enjoy it, so be on the look out for those in the next couple weeks.

We're heading to Canton this weekend, which should be fun. I'm going to try and sneak away in the mornings to get some work done, so I think the blog updates should remain, so keep coming back! My brother is having a "man-shower" while his betrothed has a much more traditional bridal-shower. I think we're playing poker, but I'm not sure. I haven't played poker in ages so this ought to be interesting. We also have about 5-7 support appointments this weekend, so if you could be praying for those, we would appreciate it a great deal. That's the most we've had in a while, so we're excited.

Thanks for reading. I'm humbled when I hear people actually read this thing. We are so blessed to have so many people around us that love us dearly. You shine the glory of Christ in our lives in that we deserve no friends and the wrath of God, yet get His grace in your friendships. Thanks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, Monday

I like Mondays. It's kind've strange because most people seem to dread them, but to me they signify new beginnings.

We had a great weekend at Melissa's family, it was lots of fun. Melissa went to a baby shower for her friend Darci on Saturday so I got more daddy time with Noah, although Melissa's mom wouldn't give him up, so it was limited. Then we celebrated Easter with her family on Saturday evening. They hide eggs for the kids in the house, and I must say, I won the award for best egg-hider. I do a good job at color-coding the hiding places with the eggs. Green eggs go on green surfaces, for instance. It's fun for me to trick them.

Noah is up on all fours quite a bit now, and we're pretty sure he'll be mobile in a week or two. He gets up on all fours and sort of rocks back and forth; it's pretty funny. It's almost like he is starting the engine. Next to learn is the 3-point stance...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cut it out..

Staring contest; you, me, ready Go!

Melissa keeps grabbing me in the middle of the night. She tries to pick me up like I'm Noah, usually saying things like "we gotta take this off you" or "be careful little buddy." It's funny at first but my wife has gone a little nuts in her sleep.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

re: last few blog posts

I got a great few questions that I thought I would throw up here. Perhaps it may clear up the last few entries, which admittedly, could be viewed as harsh. (the questions are in italics)

"Now if I understand the "Current Situation" blog correctly you are trying to raise money for Campus Crusades but in these hard economic times it is difficult and you are relying on a few churches and select people to keep it up. And that you seek their help both financially and preyerfully."

Right! Well, sort've. Essentially we're asking people to consider 'sponsoring' us. We're a non-profit organization, and the way those work are they rely on funding from outside people to provide for the business. All NPO's work that way. We sit down with people and churches and explain our ministry, plan, and heart behind what we do. We then ask if it's something they'd like to give to (or invest in).

"And that also God seems distant during these hard times. And the reply above mine leaves a quote about building with gold, a monetary tool, instead of hay and wood. Now this quote to me seems a little contradictory since you are seeking funds to do your ministry and wondering where gods help is when the funds are low and despair has set in. Will this not be a judgement passed upon you when that day comes then? "

This is a good question. However, we're not raising our funds for our ministry to "make a buck." Sure, through our financial partners we will have a salary, but just to give you a point of reference, our entire family will be bringing in around $30,000 annually; I'm sure you'd agree that we're definitely not in this for the money! The judgment would be on me if we were in despair due to a lack of surplus money, but on the contrary, our despair is wondering whether we will be able to raise the funds necessary to allow us to do ministry at all. Notice the difference? Now, we will be held accountable for that despair also, and in my blog I definitely was not trying to convey that lacking a trust in God's provision is a good thing. I think Bill's judgment was on others because he understands that we make very little. He was saying it's sad that people would rather horde their gold than give to something that will last for eternity. Make sense?

"Now my second question pertains to the blog called "faith vs. religion pt 2." Here you speak of people who pray for a good job and sickness. Now getting a good job is something I agree can be done on your own without God's help. But I also see prayning for this as a persons way of finding the strength to maintain in these hard economic times such as you are doing when you try to find funding for your minstry. Does the churches financial problems out weigh the average JOe's problems."

Prayer for a job is a great and necessary thing. I definitely did not mean to imply it was not, for the average Joe or for Pastor Joe. I was trying to say prayer for selfish reasons is near valueless. Note the word near. And part of your question I would challenge: when you say "finding the strength to maintain..." I would say it is that type of prayer that has very little value. We must never use God, or prayer, as a means to "feel good" or "find strength." It was those selfish ends that I was trying to address. Again, the difference is subtle, but do you see it?

"And if so then who is the church designed to help besides those with money. The churches you reach out to are for both prayer and funding. Is that not somewhat hypocritical of the first blog I mentioned."

I hope the above comments cleared up these questions. We do ask for prayer that our financial support would come in, but, again, it is not to be prosperous, but to live. Additionally, the prayer partners we try to raise (we hope and encourage anyways) spend very little time praying for our support, and the majority praying for students at OSU and around the world.

"Now as far as praying for someones health, I do not think their is one single thing wrong with that. You are the company you keep. I rarely pray, but when I do, I do it because it is something that is out of my control, such as cancer, and am seeking some help or guidance. Would you not put a sick friend or family memeber in your prayers everyday if they were sick and dying. Or would you just consider them to be a lost cause or going to a better place? If someone feels that praying for someones health is what cures them should they not utilize this for their own comfort at least?"

Prayer for health is a necessary and great thing! Again, I definitely did not wish to imply otherwise. I would pray for a sick family member every day. My advice was to not let that be the entirety of my prayer. And my advice was to caution against selfish prayers. Yes pray, because to do so is to be obedient. Let's not make God a genie lamp that we rub everytime we need to feel better was all i was trying to say. Again, please let me know if that doesn't make sense.

Man I was excited about these questions! I wish everyone would take the time to consider things like this. And on that note, everyone please read this comment to me also from people I admire a great deal. They quote a book I love and share a sentiment that beats deeply within my heart. My apologies that is was not conveyed (perhaps a knock on my writing talent!) re: Faith v. religion

I think of the first page in Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" where the prostitute wanted to know where to go and when advised to go to church, she was horrified and said, "That's the last place I would go." I would love for our churches to be safe places where people "come as they are" ... whether or not they are certain or doubtful about their faith.

I know that your line "Go to church because you believe it to be true or you're a lying hypocrite before you even walk in the door" was intended for those who SAY they are believers but aren't walking the talk. But I have friends who are afraid to go to church because they don't yet believe it to be true ... but would like to learn more. COME. Don't hesitate ...come as you are ... bring your questions, doubts, frustrations about God, etc ... God is not afraid of them, He wants to hear them and walk you through them. "Believing Christianity to be true" is NOT a prerequisite for coming to church. I know you added the tag that it's also for curious people. I'm glad ... one of my desires is that people feel safe to explore their beliefs at church (as opposed to alienated because they don't feel like they have their ducks all in a row).

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Barna Group poll thoughts

Check out my other post two posts down for the initial info.

One sub-group for this poll were people that claimed to be "born again," people that have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ which is important in their life today, and are certian they are going to Heaven because Jesus has forgiven their sins. The answers of this group were what initially made me sad, because these are the people I, at least, would qualify as being Christians.

Less than half (46%) of this group believe in absolute moral truth. This wasn't initially shocking because of the sweeping cultural pressure to embrace relativism or post-modernism. It's no wonder evangelism is so lacking in the church, we don't even believe it absolutely!

79% of this group believe the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. This part of the poll, I'm gathering, was probably worded a bit funny. Do 79% believe the Bible is inerrant (without error in the original manuscripts) or are they simply adhering to the Bible's infallibility (unfailing in everything it teaches). Probably the latter, and 79% is not suprising. I'm sure I would grimace at the numbers revealing an inerrancy question....

40% of this group think Satan is a real being or force. This is totally contradictory to the previous question. If 79% believe the Bible is correct, then why do only 40% believe Satan is real since the Bible clearly teaches of a real Satan? This group is evidently either ignorant to what the Bible says, or very, very poor readers. Or worse, liars.

Similarly, 62% of this group think Jesus lived a sinless life. I wonder what in the world the other 38% are so confident in, regarding Heaven? If Jesus wasn't sinless what's the point? How can He save you when He hasn't saved himself?

All of this adds up to, for me, the conclusion that "born again" Christians are grossly ignorant of their own beliefs and have virtually no concrete worldview. No wonder we can barely keep our junk straight, we don't even know what we believe half the time! It seems half mysticism and half guesses. "Well, I think God..." Fill in the blank. Sheesh. It would be unreasonably foolish to just make up our own worldview with quasi christian parameters but it seems that's what we're doing. Half the time I can't blame atheists for believing Christians are ignorant because maybe we are!

Ok, perhaps that rant went a bit far, but the point remains. We need to read some more C.S Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. We need to listen to Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll because by and large we're woefully ignorant.

"You shall love the Lord you God with are your heart, strength, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself." Let's embrace the mind.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Current situation

Currently, Melissa and I are in full-time support raising mode. Campus Crusade has no central funds, so everyone on staff is reliant on a group of individuals and churches that will partner with them, financially and prayerfully, to do their ministry.

This task, which we call Ministry Partner Development, or support raising, is often a tough one. We had no idea, when we joined staff long term in July, that we would begin to develop our financial partners on the verge of this great economic crisis. Praise the Lord that He is never in an economic downturn!

But it has been really difficult. This is not a mountaintop period in our lives. Frankly, lately, we often feel stuck in the wilderness. Hope often deserts us. We are overcome by doubt and frailty. God often seems distant. Where are you, Father? Why has our support not come in yet?

The desire of our hearts is to fulfill the Great Commission. We want to bring students worldwide to a place of decision about the risen Savior. We want everyone to hear the gospel and bow a knee to the king. Then, why, Lord, is this so hard? Shouldn't you bring our support in quickly?

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 brings us great solace.
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

What a marvelous passage! Praise the Lord that this time of trial and hardship for Melissa and I will bring beyond it a goodness and strength in our character. We will be made perfect, rather, God's power will be made perfect by our weaknesses. When we are weak, He is strong. Students the world over will benefit from this tough time in our lives. Praise God's sovereignty.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Biblical Worldview

Do you believe the following?:

1. Absolute moral truth exists.
2. The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
3. Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic.
4. A person cannot earn their way into heaven by trying to be good or do good works.
5. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
6. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

If you believe those six tenants, you have what the Barna Group's poll would describe as having a "Biblical Worldview."

The results may shock you. Only 9% of Americans believe these 6 things.

Read the full article here:

I will comment on a few things that struck me about the article in the next day or so. But, suffice it to say, that I believe that most Americans have a religion, but little faith (as described in the previous two posts).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Faith v Religion, part 2

Now listen young man...

"Thy will be done" -but in fact we are thinking: "Our will be done," and thus this third petition of the Lord's Prayer is first of all a kind of judgment on us, a judgment of our faith.
-Alexander Schmemann, Our Father
It's difficult for me when I read through the church bulletins and often read through their prayer requests. Do it, I dare you. I'm willing to bet that approximately 90%, if not more, are dedicated to some type of sickness, or some type of job search. This drives me crazy.
Do we really have nothing bigger to ask the creator of all things? Is this as big as our prayers will get? I often want to stand up and shout.
Now, don't get me wrong. Sickness and frailty and pain are very hard. People are hurting and in distress; life is hard. Cancer in a family member is terribly difficult. But the question remains: Is this really what the church is about? Our biggest, most important concerns, are our own health and occupation?
Again, I must state that these are important things, but 90% of our prayers?
The quote above made me think about this. Are we really praying, 'Lord, thy will be done' or are we praying 'God, oh magic genie in the sky, make me feel better'? I tend to think the reason all our prayers are for sickness or joblessness is because it is in those things that we have placed our trust and significance and happiness.
I have a really hard time praying for sickness in church because it is rare that I believe the person asking for prayer truly has good intentions. Are you asking me to pray for you for you, or for the glory of God in all things? Do you want to be healthy in order to glorify God and strive to fulfill the Great Commission and His work in your life, or because you don't like hurting?
The difference is subtle, but do you see it?
One, I believe is because prayer for you is a religious act. It's something you're supposed to do. It's in fad. To pray for God's glory to be revealed through your pain and sickness and weakness, now that is a faithful prayer.
Yes, we should ask God for every desire of our heart, and yes, we want to be healthy and have jobs. But let's truly pray 'Thy will be done' and not 'my will be done.'

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Faith v Religion

I admit it, church-people sometimes drive me crazy. I have a much harder time loving people that have gone to church their entire lives, than I often do the pot-smoking, social alcoholic freshmen we sometimes work with at Ohio State. I'm not alone; want to guess who the people Jesus was constantly in debates with? The same people that crucified him, the religious people!
The difference is faith vs religion I think. Melissa and I have talked about this for quite some time with a great deal of people. Faith is what makes you move and think and be. It stirs your heart and is the core of who you are. Religion is just something you do. It's a hobby, a part-time thing that has no bearing on your inner-self. We most likely all know some religious people. They love to claim Christian values (usually no smoking/drinking type values which aren't Christian per se, but that's neither here nor there). They love to be seen at church and seen as important people in the church. They love to thump you with the Bible, though they've usually failed to search it for themselves, they're simply passing on information they've heard before. Often they belong to a particular denomination or sub-division within Christianity, and preach it to others, though really they've not researched, explored, or sought out anything other than their particular group.

I hesitate to say this, but they remind me of Muslims a great deal. When Melissa and I spent a year in Central Asia we daily ran into this type of Islam. Not the fanatical, but the kind that was based more on culture and religion than based on faith. They were Islamic because that's what they were raised. They adhered to it because, well, everyone else did. Few people prayed five times a day; fewer still took part in ramadan, the 40 day fast. Very, very randomly would we ever meet someone who desired and planned to journey to Mecca in their life (which is one the five pillars of Islam). Those people I loved interacting with. I would think, "finally, here is someone that is not completely hypocritical in their religious convictions."

Don't be religious. Be faithful. Don't go to church, be it Catholic, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Lutheran or whathaveyou. Go to church because you believe it to be true or you're a lying hypocrit before you even walk in the door. Or go because you're curious to know and explore what they believe. Or if you've stumbled across this blog, talk to me, I'd love to show you some faithful people, and talk of true faith in the risen Christ.

I'm going to post the next couple days on a few things that irk me about religious people and religious churches as opposed to faith-driven people and faith-driven churches.