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Showing posts from October, 2009

Blessed to be Generous

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I am preaching on money for the next four weeks.

I wonder if there will be people will decide to stay home from worship rather than hear the messages that we'll be sharing. 

I learned early on in my ministry to students that if you were going to talk about sex with the kids during youth group, you better not tell them ahead of time what the topic was going to be.  If you did, you ran the risk of half of them not showing up.  Even more would come and hang out for the fellowship portion of the youth meeting and then get in their cars and leave before we started our "talk."  More often than not, I ended up talking to the younger students who couldn't drive, those whose parents made them come to the meeting or to kids who were probably going to be virgins until they were 40 anyway.

The ones who needed to hear the most about what the Bible had to say about sexual relationships were always the ones with the guilty consciences who tried to find a way to get out of Dodge u…

"My Holy Land Experience" or "It's Not Easy Being [that] Cheesy"

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I went to the Holy Land Experience yesterday with my youngest son, who happens to be five going on forty.  It was my first visit to the Christian-based Orlando theme park since the Trinity Broadcasting Network bought it some years ago.  I went, quite frankly, because my wife and older son went on a 15 day trip that included several days in the real Holy Land, and I promised my little guy we would one-up them.  Our mission was not to merely experience the Holy Land Experience as a means of one-uppance. We knew that wouldn't cut it.  Our mode of one-uppance was going to come when we got our picture taken with Jesus, which we were certain we would be able to do. The brochures and television ads clearly showed Jesus walking around greeting people in the park.  We decided that a photo op with Jesus himself would pretty much trump any ancient ruins that the other two members of our family visited.  In a moment of kindness I will include you on my little photo safari through the land of …

Where The Wild Things Are

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I took my five year old son to see Where The Wild Things Are, the film version of Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book of the same name directed by left-of-center director Spike Jonze (Adaptation).  I wasn't sure what to expect, to be honest.  I had not read any reviews of the film, and had only seen the trailers.  Knowing what I knew about Jonze and what I had read in some of the trade magazines, I did know that his vision for the film had the blessing of Sendak himself.

I was not prepared for the depth and the beauty of the movie, however. In a wonderful between-the-lines interpretation of the 10 sentences found in Sendak's original story, Jonze delivers a story of hope and imagination that is surprising and joyful.   

At the outset of the film we meet Max (Max Records).  Max is the nine year old main character of both the book and the film.  We discover that Max's mom (Catherine Keener-Adaptation, 40 Year-Old Virgin) is the single parent of Max and his teenag…

Spiritual Direction in Community? You Betcha

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I am finishing up my sermon series on Finding Spiritual Direction this week.

It's been a good series, I think.  People have told me so.  I want it to be.  God knows I need to know which way I am going, and what God is up to in my life. I imagine there are lots of people who feel the same way.  Especially with the world being what it is right now, and all. 

The last sermon in this series is all about finding spiritual direction in community. 

I have this question that I need to ask...

"Could the way that we show we know Jesus be found in how we act toward each other?"

And here's another question that follows the first question...

"How does that help us find spiritual direction?"

I have been reading I John 2:3-11 for my sermon text this week.  I've read it six ways to Sunday.  Here, you can read it, too.
3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, …

Praying with Purpose

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Sometimes prayer feels like a crap shoot.

Sometimes it feels as though God is only listening about half of the time, and only about half again is listening for the purpose of actually helping me out.

Sometimes I feel as though that prayer is the last thing that I need to do to solve a problem. 

Sometimes I wonder why I am even praying at all when it doesn't feel as though it makes a difference one way or another.  I mean, if God is going to do what God is going to do...  than what's the point?

Jesus prayed a lot.  It seemed to work for him.  But then again, he had a more direct line to God than anyone, and he sort of thought the same kinds of thoughts that God was thinking.  I'm pretty sure that  his disciples were fairly envious of Jesus' prayer life and the way he always seemed so confident about the effects of prayer.  That's why in Luke chapter 18 we get this:
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up.
I…

Zombieland

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I just saw the new film "Zombieland" today.  First, I have to give huge props to my wife, who gave up a rare movie theater excursion for the two of us so that I could see the movie I wanted to see.
I loves you baby.
Second, I have to say that up until a few hours ago, Shaun of The Dead was pretty much my favorite zombie move... ever.  And I enjoy a good zombie movie.  My second favorite is "Revenge of the Living Dead".  I actually saw that with my wife, too.  Only in 1985 she was my girlfriend.  And the movie scared her so bad that I was able to act like a zombie later that night and send her running down the dark street in front of her house away from me when I growled "braaaaaaaainsssss."
There is this great graveyard scene in the movie with a 45 Grave song, "Partytime" that just lit it up for me back then.  Don't judge me, if you know the movie.  Just don't.
I knew that Zombieland was going to be special, though, the moment the openin…
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"What Difference Do It Make? Stories of Hope and Healing" is the fantastic follow-up by Ron Hall & Denver Moore (with Lynn Vincent) to the wonderful book, "Same Kind of Different As Me," which became something of a phenomenon in 2006.  Hall & Moore essentially pick up their unbelievable story where "Same Kind of Different" left off.  Hall, an international art dealer, whose life and marriage were extraordinarily out of balance, met Moore, who was a homeless man living in Fort Worth, at a homeless shelter where Hall's wife Deborah had insisted they serve together.  Their unlikely friendship--Hall, a white millionaire and Moore, a poor black man--was further forged in the fires of the loss of Hall's wife Deborah to cancer.  "What Difference Do It Make?" includes stories of those who were affected by Hall and Moore's story, and who were compelled to make a difference to stamp out racism, homelessness and to practice reconciliati…

Asking The Right Question

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This week I am beginning a new sermon series entitled, "Finding Spiritual Direction."  It's a timely series--at least I think it is--because I seem to be talking to a number of people who are struggling to figure out what their purpose in life is.  People sometimes say to me, "I feel like God has something for me to do, but I don't know what it is."  Or they might admit, "I just have no idea what to do with my life."  The funny thing is, these comments and the questions that surround them are being offered up by people of all ages in all stages of life.

Trying to figure out what to be when we grow up, is often a lifetime process.  Some of us freely admit it.  Others may not openly say such a thing, but their actions and their questions reveal the truth.

I still don't know what God has in store for me---what I am supposed to be doing next.  Most of the time I am content to do RIGHT NOW, but sometimes RIGHT NOW isn't enough to maintain my pe…