Monday, August 31, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God is good.

All the time. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose."

We're clinging to that currently. We got news a few days ago that a foundation that has supported our ministry in a huge way has chosen not to this year. They may in the future but they cannot this year. The news was pretty bad for both of us, and we took it pretty bad. Lots of questions: Why would you do this God? Why can't we just be done with support raising? When can we move on? God, don't you care?

We know that God is more interested in growing our character than he is in doing what we want. Oh, praise Him that that is true. I could think of a hundred things that I/we have wanted but have been better off either waiting for or not getting at all. God is truly in control and we're especially grateful for that.

It's been a while but I'm still planning on finishing up my post on the Gospel (see a few posts ago). I have more thoughts I'd like to get down on paper...err... page. Whatever. In the meantime here's a couple pictures: Melissa thought the first one was hilarious.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the move again

We're off to Marengo this afternoon to hang with Melissa's family and celebrate a couple birthdays. Should be a good time. Then we're off to Canton until around Tuesday/Wednesdayish; hopefully to work on some support.

To update support, it's been a bit up and down lately. Lots of phone calls and emails and facebook messages have been sent out this week. Prayerfully they'll reap rewards. We're hoping to have 4 or 5 appointments this weekend.

I'm planning on posting at least one follow up to my post entitled "The Gospel." Read it if you haven't; hopefully I'll get to it this weekend.

Friday, August 14, 2009

11 months

Noah turned 11 months yesterday. It's hard to believe how fast he's growing up.

We loved this face.

Well, we all have meltdowns, right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Gospel - please read all

The thing that struck my heart with the most force at the crusade staff conference was something God brought through Tim Keller on the second day. He decided to talk about the Gospel (which one would think I'm pretty familiar with!).

Keller went on an on about what a meritocracy America is. That is, that we are a nation and people that base everything upon our merits. Have you done enough to deserve a good job? Have your test scores and grades been good enough to get into a good college? Are you a nice and good enough man to be worthy of a wife and family? Even, you will get presents for Christmas if you are a good little boy all year.
If yes, then you're good to go! A good job is yours! A good school, a good family are yours! If not, then you just don't deserve them. You get coal.

In Christian circles it's more subtle. Do you pray regularly? Do you share your faith? Do you study your Bible and know a great deal about it? If these things are true, you are a good Christian! If not, uh oh; you may not be a Christian at all, or so the thinking goes. At the very least, you are a bad Christian. You get no results in ministry, and you do little to impact other people. You aren't living a good enough life.

This meritocracy, or merit-based world we live in, is hard to shake from our psyche. You get what you deserve may as well be (a part of) the American motto.

I was doing this a great deal. Subtlely, I began to think that God was more pleased with me, and I was more loved if I was just more faithful. If I made more support calls that day, then God was happier with me. If I read the Bible more than God was happier with me. If I prayed a little more... you get the point.
And conversely, if I was not doing those things, than the guilt was heavy. God must not like me much today, I'm such a bum. God can't be pleased with me, I don't deserve it today.

The question, then, is this: Is that true? Is God happy with me when I'm good and upset when I am not? Is it true that Jesus loves (only, or so the implication goes) "good little boys?"

This is how I felt. Utterly trapped!

The answer, NO! Romans 4:4-5

"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. "

The Gospel is an absolutely free gift! We do not "work" to be made right with God; rather, God gives us righteousness freely! To the man who does not work means exactly that. The wicked man that does nothing and deserves nothing; that wicked, lazy man through faith, God justifies!

That is scandalous! That is not fair! God, you give your love and grace and righteousness to bums?! For nothing?!
Yes! That's the scandal of the Gospel, and of the grace of God! That's the message that frees the captives and sets the prisoners free. That's the message that has brought friends of mine back (literally) from the edge of suicide. That's the message that has captured hearts of people all over the world. This is not Islam. God will not weigh your good and bad deeds on a scale at the end of your life, as is true in that religion. Rather, and truly, God will look on you and ask if you've embraced and cherished the free gift. Did you trust God, and place your faith in Jesus to forgive you of all unrighteousness, past, present, and future?

See, I made it about me. What was I doing to be a good Christian? Was I being faithful? I was not living as though I was already made faithful by the blood of Jesus. I was living as though I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and be faithful. Then, during worship following Keller's talk, I relinquished my action and submitted to the God that forgives for free, the burden was lifted, and the guilt was removed. I didn't have to try; I simply had to place my faith in the one who accomplished all. Oh how my heart sings at being free!

This, I remembered, is why I do what I do. I'm on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ to bring people to the point of recognition of this reality. Don't you see (I want to cry) that you are under a burden that is to heavy to carry? Don't you want freedom, unlimited mercy, unending love and acceptance from God? Embrace Jesus! He is given you for free; it costs you nothing, you wicked men! Come to the God that forgives and gives, come see His beauty! How can you not love this God?

The Kingdom of God is no meritocracy.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Post #100

That's kind've exciting.

I weighed in at 215 this morning, so I lost 6 lbs in one week! Sheesh! I stayed at the 2,000 calorie diet and let Jillian beat me around 5 times this week. I also went running twice. I must admit I feel more energetic, which is nice. As is true for most people, when I eat sloppily I just feel sloppily.
Jillian annoys me with some of the things she says though. "If you want abs like these you have to work" and "you don't get shredded overnight" or something like that. It annoys me because I feel like I'm investing in our culture's love of vanity. I'm not working out to look good, I'm working out to be fit. I could care less if I look good with my shirt off; I care that I live to see my grandkids and that I'm the kind of good father and husband that my son and wife need. Rant over.

We got Papa John's pizza last night per my wife's request and she let me get an anchovy pizza! It was stinkin awesome. I love anchovies though I only get them maybe once a year. I'm having leftovers tonight and I'm stoked.

Support has sort've hit a stall. This morning I made nearly 30 calls and talked to 2 people. One of the calls was super encouraging, but nonetheless, overall, the morning was a bit disappointing. We're so close, but we want to continue to rufn the race to win. We can't quit just because the finish line is in sight; we have to push harder.

Noah talked to us the other day. Well, ok, he didn't talk to us, but he signed "more." It was pretty exciting. We're communicating!
Hes breaking his fifth tooth in currently as well. The dude gets a bad runny nose and real congested when he breaks teeth; we just feel terrible for him. The best is when the snot runs into his mouth.

Draw you scoundrel!

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I'm feeling pretty terrible today. Currently I'm watching Rudy hoping I don't throw up. Not sure what brought it on, but here's hoping it's just a one day thing.

Last night was fun. Melissas mom and dad came down to babysit Noah for a few hours and then we all had dinner. Melissa and I went to watch the new transformers movie, which we really liked; action the whole time. Melissa cooked stuffed peppers and man were they amazing. Maybe I'm ill because I ate to much? Did i mention we went out for ice cream afterwards?

Last Saturday I weighed in at 221. My goal is to be 190 by January 1st. I'm not a bit ashamed to admit that I've been doing Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. It totally kicked my rear the first few days, but I'm starting to get in a bit better shape already. I was so sore i was having trouble walking those first couple days. Working on around a 2000 calorie diet also, nothing special, just limiting the calorie intake.

God brought so much to my heart at CSU. Staff conference really was quite awesome. It had its trouble traveling with a 10 month old, but we really connected with the Lord and the Body a great deal. Hopefully in the next few days I'll talk about some of the stuff Tim Keller, Larry Crabb et al brought before me.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

part 2

Apparently, for me, "I'll blog tomorrow" means give me a few days. If that. My apologies.

Hopefully that last post made sense. Re-reading it I feel maybe I failed a bit at explaining my ideas, and the writing was a bit poor. Regardless, I'm moving on; my major objection for non-exegetical sermons (sermons that do not study, in depth, a particular passage of scripture):

My understanding of Sunday morning messages is that they are to teach. They are to mentor, or disciple, the attendees in the ways of faithfulness and Godliness. They are als to be wise in the way they do this.

Most messages these days are essentially pep-talks, or simple exhortations. By simple exhortation I mean a basic piece of advice. The pastor has essentially one point and then he rambles for 25-30 minutes about it:

"We should read our Bibles! Look at 2 Timothy 3:16 - The Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.... Let's read our Bibles! If you have been struggling with reading your Bible lately, repent now and come to the altar. Today can be the day you change. Ok now, with every head bowed and eye closed... who here could use more Bible reading in their lives?"

Messages like this have one point, in this case to read your Bible. Why not just say it and move on?

Here's my problem. Why? Because the pastor gave me one random verse I'm supposed to just jump in? Besides, I have no idea how to read my Bible. Where do I begin? What about when struggles come? What are good resources? Why is it important?

I'm rehashing that I hate being told what to do; and to be honest I have a general distrust in a great deal of pastors these days. I've failed to move to my point I think, here is attempt number two.

A pastor's role, and I believe the role of the church, should be to grow the congregation. Seeker friendly churches and stuff like that just seem a bit off to me. The church should be about teaching and growing it's members, not watering things down so that the messages come in catchy topics. Bring the meat! Non-exegetical sermons fail to bring the meat. Pastors that do this fail horribly at equipping the congregation in it's knowledge and skill in using the Bible, and deciphering true and health exegesis. They are just dumbing things down to simple nuggets. No wonder we are so apathetic to things of God; it's for unintelligent robots that like being told what to do.

The outreach should be left to the members of the church, not for Sunday mornings. Let's leave the analogies and the catchy word-plays to the members of the church trying to reach the people that need such things (the unchurched). Let's bring the depth of knowledge and meat to those members of Sundays.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I love Biblical exegesis. From Wikipedia: "Biblical exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of the Bible. The goal of Biblical exegesis is to find the meaning of the text which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance."
And I struggle with 95% of sermons these days because we just don't get that. We get alliteration and catchy topics, but leave the Bible almost wholly out of it. Melissa and I have listened to a great deal of sermons that are essentially:
"Today we're going to talk about getting fired up for God! Jesus was fired up for God! Here is a passage where Jesus heals someone and look at his reaction, he's fired up for God! Whoo!"
Then the pastor will tell a thousand other analogies of people or whathaveyou that talk about that topic, while leaving Biblical exegesis on the sideline. Can God move through these messages? Sure, but I'm just not a big fan.
Here's why. The pastor is essentially telling me what to do. I hate that. Partly because i'm a "pastor" of sorts and I hate telling people what to do. I would (and Jesus did this also) much rather bring people to the foot of God and allow them to see their own sin and need for change. I just don't care that much about what John Smith or Jane Doe pastor has to say about world issues or even how I should live. It's not motivating to me at all; afterall, I'm not living to please them, I'm living to please the King of Kings. Show me what He has to say.
Another reasons I have issues with non-exegetical sermons is that the pastor may be totally misunderstood.
I have heard two or three messages essentially saying, "don't doubt, just believe." Misunderstanding people have taken this to the extreme and just checked every healthy skeptical thought they've ever had. A healthy skepticism is often good for our faith. Where would we be without CS Lewis, or Francis Schaeffer, or Tim Keller? These are people with honest questions that brought them to God. God doesn't want us to check our curious minds and just believe; He does want us to bring them before Him though. --- Now, I don't think those pastors would disagree with me, but because they failed badly to exegete the text they were trying to preach from, the message was all jambled. Bad theology follows. Apathy has followed that, at least in the American church.
One other issue I have with non-exegetical sermons I'll discuss tomorrow. Perhaps I'll flesh out those ideas more too.