Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Serving a Creative God

I believe that most people forget that we serve a creative God. The Bible narrative begins with a poem about Creation. "In the beginning God created." Now let's just stop here for a minute. Just think about some of the beauty you see around you. Try to push through the images of concrete and steel and remember the drive past the pond, or the squirrel running up the tree. Think of all the beauty around you. If you are sitting near a window, peak out and see all that's beautiful around you.

If you've ever seen the documentary Planet Earth or seen something like it, then you know how much beauty there is in our world. GOD CREATED IT ALL!

What makes this feat even more amazing is that He did it all with NOTHING! We can create beautiful things--if we're given the right tools. But to create something out of literally nothing--no supplies, no preexisting context or frame of reference...?!?! Simply amazing. God is so creative that He looked out over nothing and from within Himself He brought out all that we see. WOW!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Creativity in the Church

I grew up in a church that was, for lack of a better term, old-school. The church I went to in high school was old-school (the youth service was very relevant and so you can imagine the problems that emerged between the two philosophies). The good thing about growing up in churches like this is that it gives you a deep theological background. The bad thing is that you don't get to see creativity exhibited.
As crazy as it may be, there actually is a debate about creativity in the church (though not a verbal one, unless you are Stephen L. Anderson). In a lot of "old-school" churches there isn't a lot of room for creative expressions. Most churches in the US don't have a band--and most of them probably believe that it is wrong to do so. Musical talent is ignored because it seems to "worldly" (I will make an exception for Church of Christ. Through I disagree with them, they have a theological reasoning for their belief in "no-instruments" praise. I can respect that and agree to disagree).

Now that I'm a part of a church that provides an environment for progressive, creative thinking, it's really showed me how important creativity is to our faith. For the next couple of days, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned about creativity and its relation to our faith.

Tomorrow: "Serving a Creative God"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No More Excuses

After watching this I'll never make nor take an excuse for wanting to be able to play an instrument but it being too hard...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Download

What a week it's been. Here's a recap of a week that has flown by:

  • Visited Kingwood Church in Alabaster Sunday. Had a great time. Love the people there. Several of their staff have invested a lot in our church and I for one am very grateful for their efforts/sacrifice.
  • My brother, Daniel, came up Monday to stay with Amanda and me for Spring Break. Pretty amazing what God is doing in his life. Just wish I would have started living for God at that age.
  • Filled out my tournament bracket. So far I'm 12 for 16 (not all that good). I have a tendency to try to pick too many upsets. Of course, I didn't help that favorite Clemson got beat by Michigan of all teams. Their basketball team suffers from the same "do-awesome-the-first-half-0f-the-season-and-then-completely-melt-down" thing that their football team usually does.
  • Got to help some of the youth make a video for Fine Arts. I may be a little biased, but I'd be surprised if it didn't advance to Nationals.
  • Had a great service Wednesday night. There wasn't a whole lot of people there (Spring Break), but the worship was very powerful and raw and I felt like the teaching/preaching time went well.
  • I tried something new with my sermon this week. At the end, before I gave an altar call, I opened it up for Q+A. It's easy for people to get lost even when you think you've covered all the bases. Teens get to ask questions everywhere except church...so why not let them be more informed about spiritual things?
  • Went bowling with Amanda and Daniel. I had a pretty decent second game--for me anyway. I think the baby was throwing Amanda off because her bowling ball kept veering all over the place.
  • This pregnancy is going be really fast. I thought it would take forever. But it's already almost here. Yes!
  • Got to watch some NCAA tournament action last night. Thought American was going to pull off the upset but in the end we see why Villanova was a 3-seed and they were a 14-seed. Great teams always find a way to win games.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The WAY of Christ pt. 3

The concept of way doesn't just refer to us living our lives. It also shows how following Christ means allowing Him to change our world-view. Here's another definition for "hodos" (Greek for way):
  1. a course of conduct
  2. a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding

Following the way of Jesus means that our sinful nature has been transformed to be like His Spirit nature (Galatians 5). It holds to the thought that sin is not simply just something we do (i.e. adultery, murder, stealing), but it a part of our nature...a part of who we are. We have been conditioned by sin to react through a sin lens. However, once we begin following the way of Christ (having asked Him to forgive us and transform us) we move away from the sinful nature (Paul called it crucifying the flesh) and become more like Him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The WAY of Christ pt. 2

John 14:6:Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me

The Greek word for "way" in Jesus' statement is hodos. It can be translated a couple of different ways (two of which we'll look at next time), but one of them is a travellers way, journey, traveling. In his own words, Christ is painting a picture for us of what it means to be "Christian." It's the picture of a man traveling to a distant land. It the image of a woman, with her backpack on her pack, climbing through a mountain range. Christianity is not a static existence. It really isn't a noun. It's a verb. It's something we do and something we are. To be Christian means that you are a traveler on your way to become more like Christ--to go where the Holy Spirit leads and to do the work of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pt.3 -- The WAY and Our Minds

Friday, March 13, 2009

The WAY of Christ pt.1

For the next couple of posts I want to share a little of what God has been teaching me through various avenues here lately. Modern Christianity seems to have become more focused on events or what I like to call "one shot deals" (ex. altar/salvation call, "getting saved,"). Though there is some validity to these claims (most people can mark the moment when the actually began following Jesus), it fails to capture all that our faith encompasses.

Being a Christian is not about signing a card or reaching different goal levels (salvation, baptism, being filled with the Spirit, making it to heaven); rather, it is a way we live life. Instead of being ends, things like baptism and being filled with the Spirit are simply markers on our spiritual journey the reaffirm the work that God is doing in our lives as we follow His way.

More next Monday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chuck Turned 69

So Chuck Norris turned 69 yesterday. But, what was he like in his younger, pre- Walker Texas Ranger days?...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finding the Sweet Spot

I am by no means a baseball player. The one year I played (5th Grade) I had a .000 batting average. I generally love to watch and play, and I usually understand sports of all kinds: football, basketball, golf, ultimate frisbee, tennis, etc. But I'm not particularly fond of baseball. I know that saying that as a resident of Vincent is on par with blasphemy, but that's the way it is.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for America's Game (let's be honest, baseball hasn't been America's game for at least a decade--thanks NFL and March Madness), I do understand some concepts. One of those is the "sweet spot." It's the place on a bat that provides the best power, acceleration, etc. that leads to greater hitting distance (i.e. more homeruns). But, the sweet spot isn't all over the bat. In fact it's just in...a spot. There's a balance between the regular spots and the bad spots and at the center of that balance is where you want to be.

Ministry is very similar. So is faith. There is a danger than I believe almost ALL ministries and believers fall into of going too far in one direction. All grace or no grace. Meeting on Sundays vs. never meeting. Republican or Democrat. Faith or works. Most disciples gravitate toward one extreme or another. My desire (although it is a great struggle for me) is to be balanced--to find that sweet spot that is the right location between two extremes. I think that's what God meant be "narrow [is] the road that leads to life." (Matthew 7.14)

So I guess the moral of the story, or the challenge is this: to find the sweet spot in your faith. Don't be blown back and forth between two extremes, but find that balanced, narrow sweet spot where God desire you (and me) to be.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Repost: Imagination and Creativity

This was on Stephen Furtick's blog (he's the pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, the 2nd fastest growing church in the US):

Let’s define creative. Cause it seems like to me that the way we often use the term in church work today misses the point.

Some people fancy themselves as being “creative”, or ”creative-types” because they have a lot of ideas. Cool. You have ideas.
So does my 3 year old.
That doesn’t make you creative.
An idea without implementation isn’t creation.

By definition, being creative requires that you create something.
True creative people don’t just dream it-they do it…or oversee the strategy to get it done.
True creativity results in a product. Not just an idea.

We’ve all met people who shy away from the hard work of action steps because they “don’t do the details”. They’re “more into the creative side of things”.
But as far as I can tell, the Chief Creator didn’t just think about light, stars, and human life…the proof of His creativity is the tangible detailed expression of His vision.

That’s what I appreciate so much about our creative team at Elevation.
They imagine-then they implement.
Otherwise, they know they’d just be
playing make believe.
And we don’t give paychecks to big boys and girls for playing make believe.

What will you create today?
Don’t settle for conceptualization. Bring it into existence.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Forwarded Emails

Generally speaking, I hate forwarded emails. I don't really care about how many different ways a cat can smile or a kid can describe clouds. I especially hate the Christian chain-mail ones that threaten you with "if you don't forward this to 37 friends, they'll all die and burn in hell!"

But, I did receive this one from Angie. I have to say this is pretty funny.

Be Careful Out There:

We had to have the garage door repaired. The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a 'large' enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, 'Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.' I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, 'NO, it's not.' Four is larger than two..'

We haven't used Sears repair since.


My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill. Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter. She said, 'you gave me too much money.' I said, 'Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back.' She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request. I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said 'We're sorry but they could not do that kind of thing.' The clerk then proceeded to give me back $1 and 75 cents in change..

Do not confuse the clerks at McD's.

I live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road. The reason: 'Too many deer are being hit by cars out here!
I don't think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.'

Kingman, KS ...

My daughter went to a local Taco
Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for 'minimal lettuce.' He said he was sorry, but they only had iceburg lettuce.
From Kansas City

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, 'Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?' To which I replied, 'If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?' He smiled knowingly and nodded,

'That's why we ask.'

Happened in
Birmingham , Ala.

The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged coworker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, 'What on earth are blind people doing driving?!'

She was a probation officer in Wichita , KS

At a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker. She was leaving the company due to 'downsizing.' Our manager commented cheerfully, 'This is fun. We should do this more often.' Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

This was a lunch at
Texas Instruments.

I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the sake of her life, couldn't understand why her system would not turn on.

A deputy with the
Dallas County Sheriffs office, no less.


When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. 'Hey,' I announced to the technician, 'its open!' His reply, 'I know. I already got that side.'

This was at the Ford dealership in Canton, MS


They walk among us... and they VOTE and they REPRODUCE