Friday, July 25, 2008

Dark and Light

So…..I leave for a weeklong trip with the youth in the morning. I am a little too tired to go, but I am sure it will be good. I do not want to leave my family again for sure! :) But alas, here we go. So, I'll be gone for awhile, but if anyone even reads this anymore, I promise to get more regular when we get back. Until then, let's talk about the new Batman, which blew me away! The "disappearing pencil" scene was unreal!

I am not a true comic book guy, but I did watch a few cartoons, and what boy doesn't like superheroes? So I look greatly forward to these summer comic blockbusters. I love the struggle between good and evil in all these, and the religious undertones they all seem to have. This flick did NOT leave me wanting in this category!

There are so many spiritual themes in The Dark Knight, such as the obvious warnings of how easily we can be corrupted by fear and darkness. It is a weakness we all share and one which the movie suggests we can all choose to defeat, as well.

The principal drama struggle is about how temptation rips at those most involved in the fight of good and evil, as we all should be. And particularly how morals seem to get pretty fuzzy in tense situations. . "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain," as Alfred tells Bruce.

Also…..Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart are amazing. The former, is the greatest villain I may have seen EVER.

The heart of the movie is the idea that we all embrace evil as easily as we do good, when necessary. And this constant running internal struggle is what makes it so good--and so disturbing. It is a violent and disturbing film. This is not a super hero flick for kiddos. It is thought-provoking for adults, but potentially terrifying for children.

I want to write more…but duty as a dad calls. My baby is crying and I gotta' run.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God Only Knows What I’d be Without Them

Yesterday was a wonderful day. It stunk in one aspect. My wife and baby daughter left for Portland. Some friends of ours were taking a mother daughter trip for the weekend, and they invited Jessie and Haddie along. So, they went. I am VERY glad, as Jess totally deserved a relaxing and fun getaway. So, that left me, and my 5 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter to "fend for ourselves". We did just fine! J

After a nap, we got suited up and drove to Aunt Melanie's for a swim. The water was cold and felt great. The kids are all over the water in their life jackets and the weather was perfect. It was super fun. Jude wanted to lay on the lounge chairs for awhile. As he lie there taking in the rays, he said the cutest thing……"now this is what I call summer vacation. You bet Jude..this surely is!

Next we came home and got cleaned up and rested a little. For next, was our BIG adventure! We set out for dinner. A healthy smorgasbord from the local Sonic! Then we skipped across town to the Jackson County Fair. Neither of my kids had ever been to a fair so I was not sure if they would like, especially considering how hot it was! Boy was I wrong! It was awesome. First we went into the "ScienceWorks" tent. They had all kinds of cool setups for the kids to play with. We had fun, and it was air conditioned! Next we went to the 4H tents and saw all the smelly animals. Merrick thought that was fun.

Then we got to pick 3 rides. We rode the teacups (much to my tummy's chagrin), the merry-go-round, and last…the caterpillar roller coaster. I wasn't sure about Merrick, but she LOVED LOVED LOVED it. The instant it took off, her hands went flying in the air and she laughed and giggled the whole time! Jude was yelling in joy. It was a great moment! So, after that we got some snow cones and cotton candy and headed over to the amphitheatre. I planned on trying to take the kids to their first concert ever. I wasn't sure how it would go, but it was wonderful.

The newest touring rendition of the Beach Boys was due on stage. Mike Love and his band put on a super fun show! And my kids dug it! "Dad is their CD out yet" Jude asked. J Merrick was jumping and dancing with everyone around us (always the life of ANY party!) and Jude was bobbing his head and clapping to the beat (in a white church of Christ way of course…). Man it was a dream. Towards the end of the set, I tool Merrick to the potty. As she rode on my shoulders I asked if her day was fun. Her reply will forever be burned into my heart. "Daddy, it was everything I dreamed of…" It sure was Merrbear, it sure was…

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Christian Culture

Awhile back, at a conference in Nashville I heard a preacher complaining about Church billboards. Then I recently read an article in relevant about the same thing. So, I want to write about it, as it has been on my heart! I will quote the article and blatantly rip it off often J. Here is an example I was given about church marquee signs: "Give Satan an inch, and he'll be a ruler". I wish I could remember more. The minister from NashVegas collected hundreds of them. I live in a small town with smaller churches, so I don't get the pleasure of reading such humor regularly.

But, I do wonder what the witty authors of such silly signs hope to accomplish? Is this where the Church in America has come to? We would MUCH rather communicate our faith through a sign, or better yet a T-shirt, then through our actions! Why is this? The rest of our personal beliefs aren't worn only on clothing and signs?

I struggle with Christian bookstores like the local Evangel. I need them but loathe them at the same time. I recently have begun buying religious books at "regular" bookstores instead. Because, Christian bookstores are taking on the feel of a Super Duper Mega Mart, full of "Jesus Junk" like "testamints" and crucifix lollipops at the counter. I wonder if this wouldn't be a "temple cleansing" if Jesus were around?!?! Clothes, video games, toys, comic books, food, and music has been changed just enough for it to appear on the surface as Christian. I could go on and on with the silly things you could find there. Yet, I also find many a good resource there too. It is a constant battle.

Having Christian clothes, toys, comic books, and video games aren't bad things in themselves. But does it make Christianity relevant to the rest of society? That is the intent I believe, but I am afraid what it is doing is making us more distant, creating a counter-culture that hides in its own safe corner rather than engaging the lost world.

to quote that article: "In essence, the church has separated itself from America and created its own culture by putting a slight Christian twist to clothing, video games, toys, comic books, food and music. It has stated through its actions that it doesn't want to be a part of culture, but rather create its own culture. It has become a "Christian pop culture" that is disconnected from the rest of society."

Surely this cannot be healthy and surely this does not fit the Great Commission.

So, a Christian culture is one in which the language, politics, customs, and beliefs are only Christian. Although it may not be wrong having Christianity mixed with these things, there is something innately wrong when Christianity exists in a culture by removing itself from that culture and creating its own culture. Isn't there? Am I just crazy?

I am afraid in attempts to "reach out the world" we are cutting the world out of the church instead.

I just don't know that Jesus would wear these silly shirts that I own. Can you imagine healing a blind man in a t-shirt saying "1 savior + 3 nails = 4given"? I am not trying to make a point of fashion here; I am trying to make a point of reaching out to a lost world. The point is that it is unmistakable that Jesus' life on earth was motivated by love!!

The article quoted one of my favorite stories from Mark 6:30-44. In this account, Jesus sees a crowd of people that has just run from several surrounding towns in order to see him. Upon seeing them he is moved with compassion. Jesus' disciples, told Jesus to just send them home. The disciples said this with it already being late and right after they had just spent solitary time with Jesus. They had been by themselves all day and without even spending a moment with the people, they tell Jesus to send them off. Not only did Jesus not send them away, but he met their physical need and spiritual need. He taught them and then he fed them.

The writer than challenged us to consider who we are in this account? Jesus or the disciples? If you say you're Jesus then we are doing it wrong, because if Christians imitated Jesus' example in this account then there would be an attraction to Christianity in America, rather than what we have. When was the last time you saw Christians being depicted as loving??? Christians have been depicted as protesters, politicians, and moralists, while atheist celebrities are the ones being depicted as loving. This is WRONG!

We have a great challenge to love as Jesus did! I think the 1st step to doing so may involve leaving our safe little boxed in culture and going out to the world where love is directly needed! Let us be a people who reveal ourselves fully and better yet, reveal Christ fully, but through love and not only a t-shirt!

T-Shirts by Derek Webb

they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they'll know us by the way we point and stare
at anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare

they'll know us by our picket lines and signs
they'll know us by the pride we hide behind
like anyone on earth is living right
and isn't that why Jesus died
not to make us think we're right

when love, love, love
is what we should be known for
love, love, love
it's the how and it's the why
we live and breathe and we die

they'll know us by reasons we divide
and how we can't seem to unify
because we've gotta sing songs a certain style
or we'll walk right down that aisle
and just leave 'em all behind

they'll know us by the billboards that we make
just turning God's words to cheap clich├ęs
says "what part of murder don't you understand?"
but we hate our fellow man
and point a finger at his grave

they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they'll know us by the way we point and stare
telling 'em their sins are worse than ours
thinking we can hide our scars
beneath these t-shirts that we wear

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Family First

I love my family. I cannot say that enough, or add enough stress top make you understand the fullness of this statement. This past year has been brutal, as many of you know. It beat us down, hurt us, caused loss, gave blessings, and all kinds of 'stuff" in between. I have had great victories and greater defeats. But through it all, the one thing God has taught me is that my family is the GREATEST blessing I could ever have! I love them so much, and want to make sure I do all in my power to cherish them and love them with all of my being!

Many times, I have let me crazy schedule get in the way of times together. I think ministers are often guilty of this. In our best efforts to reach out and serve we build schedules under the sake of Godliness that are anything but Godly! We make ourselves so busy that our families and times together are put in the back seat. While we are called to serve, aren't we supposed to put our families first?

I want to work on scheduling better. I want to spend as much time as I can with my dear family. Time is moving SO quick! My baby starts school in 7 weeks!!!!! So…family, I love you more than you'll ever know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Update

Hey guys……it has been awhile huh? I ask you all to be patient with me. I am smack in the middle of SUPER busy season! I survived VBS, then last week we had an AMAZING camp of 130 folks! It was a true blessing! I saw spiritual growth that I had never seen in teens at camp before. I wish you could have all been there. Despite all kinds of attempts by Satan, everyone there was touched and “dared to Move” towards what God calls us to be as His children! On top of all the personal growth we also welcome 5 new Christians to our family! In just over a week we will leave for Portland to work in the filed with the team from PUMP. It is a trip our teens LOVE! They do a great job with it each and every year. So….I am BUSY!

I promise to try and get a few posts in but I cannot guarantee it. But as soon as that is over…and my family and I take some much needed time off together, then I will get back! I pray my few loyal readers are still with me! 

Enjoy a few pics from camp!