One Headline I Never Expected to See

“Lawrence Roach agreed to pay alimony to the woman he divorced, not the man she became after a sex change,” the article begins.

Wow.

You can read the full article here… if you really want to.

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Top 10 Random Thoughts About Church Ministry

(10) Sunday morning is absolutely the most grueling time of the week for me. On Sunday afternoons I feel like an athlete after a highly competitive contest.

(9) You hear a lot about how people no longer respect clergy. I’m sure that’s often true, but in my experience, I’ve found that many people still attach respect to the office.

(8) Serving at a church that is staff-led, and where everyone shares a common vision and is on a common mission, is such a totally, completely, entirely different experience from serving in a church where it’s congregational led, nothing ever gets done, no one cares about those outside the church, and pretty much everyone is clueless about what being a Christian is all about.

(7) Geography has a huge impact on the way ministry is done. Most of the books, conferences, and training seminars are produced by guys from the big city. Very little of their methodology is effective in places like the Eastern Shore.

(6) Fortunately, more and more people are catching on to the biblical idea that ministry is not something done only by pastors. It’s for everyone in the church. Expecting the pastors to do all the work of ministry is like expecting a football coach to play every position on the team.

(5) Technology has given the church some ministry tools that should make today the greatest day in the history of the church. We can reach people literally all over the globe in numerous ways (such as blogs and podcasting), and often for free.

(4) Saying that you’re a minister is like saying that you’re a businessman. It’s so general that it barely narrows down what it is you actually do. There is such an enormous spectrum of ministry roles at church: preacher, vision-caster, visitor, administrator, music leader, drama script writer, counselor, set designer, email writer, video editor, small groups leader, discipler, and on and on.

(3) The most ineffective ministers are the ones who try to do all of those things listed in #4 above. Tackling more than three or four of those roles will horrendously dilute any minister’s effectiveness.

(2) Being known as a pastor can make it difficult to live an effective Christian life. Many times I’ve been treated by people as though I’m some kind of professional holy man, rather than a sincere follower of Jesus Christ. It’s often tempted me to go bi-vocational, something that is still a very real possibility.

(1) Rarely do I feel closer to God than when I’m preaching. I know that I couldn’t do it at all without Him, and so the whole time I’m preaching, I’m experiencing inside the wonder of having God work through me.

Published in: on March 30, 2007 at 8:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Adam Balboa

Adam is such a good sport.  He starred in this video that we made last summer.  Funny how much younger he looks.  Enjoy!

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

“Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School”

Surprise, surprise.  I was shocked to see the cover of Time magazine this week.  The headline for the cover story reads: “Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School.”  You can read the full article here.

The gist of it is this: Several public school districts around the country are starting to offer elective courses for high school students–courses which teach the Bible as a work of literature.  Amazingly controversial, and I was quite surprised to see Time endorsing it on its cover!  The idea is that the Bible is foundational to Western culture, and it would be beneficial if we could stem the tide of biblical illiteracy.

I’ve only had a couple experiences with this kind of religion-taught-objectively venture, both of them on the college level (well, that is, if you can count the community college I went to as “college level”!).  The community college course was actually on World Religions, and the professor decided to omit Christianity from the syllabus because she said everyone knew all about Christianity.  If only she had covered it, because I thought I knew all about it but actually didn’t have a clue!

My second experience was much more adventurous.  When I was a student in the University of Maryland system (UMBC, to be precise), I took a class called “The Bible As Literature.”  It was taught by an atheist professor.  I loved having him for my English Lit classes, but the Bible class was a disaster.

Maybe high school students and teachers can handle it better, but my Bible Lit class in college resembled a Middle East peace talks conference.  On one side you had conservative Christians who hold Scripture as God’s Word; on the other side you had liberal agnostics who were there for the entertainment of ridiculing the Christians and their Bible; and in the middle of it all you had this atheist professor.  Exciting times.  I talked with him once in his office about halfway through the semester, and he vowed he would never try to teach that course again.  Poor guy had no idea what he was getting himself into!

Trying to teach the Bible as mere literature will always be complicated, though perhaps highly skilled people might be able to do it successfully.  My take on the whole thing is pretty straightforward: Go ahead and teach it, by all means!  As long as it gives students exposure to the Bible, I don’t care if it’s not preached as long as it’s also not distorted.  If people begin exploring the Bible for themselves, God will do what only God can do.  Cramming it down people’s throats never increased anyone’s love for God.

Some interesting tidbits referenced in the article:

  • almost 2/3 of Americans believe that the Bible has answers to “all or most of life’s basic questions”
  • only half of American adults can name the title of even one of the four Gospels
  • the American adult who can tell you the name of the first book of the Bible is in the minority
  • you probably knew that the Bible is the all-time best-selling book–but it’s also the best-selling book every single year!
  • it’s estimated that Shakespeare alluded to Scripture in his works about 1,300 times

David Van Biema, who wrote the article, closes it with some pat and silly conclusions, but as a whole it’s still worth checking out.

Published in: on March 28, 2007 at 8:13 am  Comments (4)  

Strange Hinges

This is weird.  Today I cleaned out my office.  Blank walls are looking at me.  I still have to come in this week to tie up some loose ends, but I can come in whenever I want.  It feels strange.  Today was my last staff meeting.

Transitions are odd times.  Things like empty walls and packed boxes are like the hinges on open doors going to new places.  And sometimes they squeak.

Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  

The Monkey in the Flower

Okay, I told you about the monkey in me.  Now I want to know if you see the monkey in the flower.  Below is a picture of a flower that Carolyn took in England (she took the picture, not the flower).  When I look at this picture, I see the face of angry monkey in the middle of the flower.  Do you see it?

monkey in the flower

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 2:12 pm  Comments (13)  

Sayonora, Ciao, Adios, and Catch Ya on the Flip Side

Yesterday at SonRise we wrapped up our series “Just Walk Across the Room.”  Pastor Daryl did a great job bringing us a powerful message.  You can check out the podcast when it comes up later this week.

However, Daryl and Jenna both teamed up to embarrass me, and did a pretty good job of it.  It was my last Sunday on staff at the church, and they made a big deal about it.  Daryl talked about it for a few minutes, and then rolled a video Jenna had made with lots of clips from footage of me.  Unfortunately, most of it was me dancing.  And of course, she had it playing to the song “I Can’t Dance.”  After the first service, Carolyn said to me, “I’m glad I only have to watch that once!” (She works with the kids during the second service.)  Apparently she’s not impressed with my dancing skills–either that, or she’s jealous.  So obviously I can’t post that video here on my blog, or I’d be sleeping on your couch tonight!

SonRise has been so supportive, and they were especially kind to me yesterday.  Several people gave Carolyn and me some really nice cards… and some really nice gift cards!  It was very thoughtful.  They also gave us some nice gifts.

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment  

The Monkey In Me

You know those giant organic bananas at the grocery store that take a week to get ripe enough to eat?  This weekend I discovered I could eat one in three bites.  I was pretty pleased with myself.

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 9:01 am  Comments (4)  

An Alarming Question

Why do I turn off my alarm when it goes off?  Shouldn’t I turn it off when it goes on?  Or at least turn it on when it goes off?  If it’s already going off, why do I have to turn it off?

There are some things I just don’t get.

Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 6:47 am  Comments (2)  

The Apostles Who Didn’t Believe in Jesus

In the series that we’re finishing up at SonRise tomorrow, called “Just Walk Across the Room,” one of the things we’ve heard about frequently is that most people hear the Gospel a number of times before they cross the line of belief. Most Christians hear about salvation through Jesus Christ somewhere around a dozen times before they become believers.

The apostles of Christ are usually remembered as the heroes who wrote the New Testament and gave up their lives to tell people about the resurrected Jesus. But even they didn’t believe the Gospel the first time they heard it. Or the second. In fact, they didn’t believe until the risen Jesus Himself appeared to them… and gave them an earful for not believing earlier!

Mark 16:9-14 records these incidents for us. The first person to see Jesus after He rose from the dead was Mary Magdalene. She rushed to tell the apostles about it, but they didn’t believe her! That must have been so frustrating for her, to have seen and talked with the risen Christ and not even have His disciples believe her!

Then there was the famous instance which we commonly call the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34). Jesus appeared to these guys as well, but like Mary, no one believed them either.

Finally Jesus shows up and rebukes them for not believing. After all, He had told them exactly what would happen to Him, and that He would come back from the dead! But their hearts were hardened and they wouldn’t believe. Quite honestly, I probably would’ve responded the same way. If I’d been following Jesus for a few years and entrusted Him with all my hopes and dreams, and then He died, it would’ve pretty hard to get my hopes up again.

Anyway, most people don’t respond in faith the first time they hear the Gospel. Or the second, or the third…. But I find it encouraging that even the people who shared the Gospel with Jesus’ apostles had the door closed on them! Great things arose from the testimony of these earliest witnesses, and God can do great things with our efforts as well, even the ones that seem at first to be failures.

Published in: on March 24, 2007 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment