Showing posts from July, 2010

Family Values Week One: Calendars & Morals

This week I am launching a new sermon series, "Family Values: Rediscovering What's Really Important."  The idea is pretty simple...

Our culture has become marked by anxiety.  There is no way to escape the deluge of bad news that just seems to permeate the air around us.  Some blame it on the recent 24-hour news cycle that was once a phenomenon, and is now just the status quo.  Others blame it on the immediacy of information from cable TV, the internet, smart phones and social media.

There is the passage of Scripture from Psalm 85 where the psalmist extols the virtues of those who are walking in pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem with the blessings of God all around them.  "They move from strength to strength," he writes.  Strength to strength... that sounds beautiful doesn't it?

Unfortunately, I think that most of the people in our culture move from fear to fear.  We move from being anxious about terrorism to being anxious about war.  We were fearful…

Go Fish Week 3 - "Go Fishing!"

This Sunday I am finishing up the sermon series that I've been preaching on Evangelism.

I felt so strongly that this sermon series needed to be preached at my church, and I have been praying that God would use it to spark the desire for evangelism in the hearts of our people. 

The first week of our series we talked about how we need to connect with our story and learn to tell it.  The second week we discovered that God doesn't need us to spread the Good News that Jesus is risen and Creation is getting redeemed, but God loves it when we join him in doing just that. 

This week we are seeking to answer this "Big Question:" Jesus commanded his disciples to be evangelists and disciple-makers.  What does that look like for us?

I think that a lot of Christian-types would agree that Christians should know and tell their story.  There are probably a few more who would agree that God wants us to join him in the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But when the rubber…

Go Fish Week 2 - "Why Fish?"

Presbyterians get unfairly criticized for a lot of things.  We have been called "the frozen chosen" because we are Calvinists (sort of) and have a history of being un-fun.  We also get criticized for over-analyzing everything and forming too many committees to make decisions.

Well, that last bit was not unfair. We deserve to be criticized for that.

But one accusation that I have actually had leveled at me by some of my--shall we say--not Reformed colleagues is that Presbyterians don't practice Evangelism.  When I protested that this was patently untrue, they responded by saying, "Well, you believe in all of that predestination stuff, so you think that you don't need to evangelize."

"All of that predestination stuff" means that some Presbyterians adhere to the doctrine that God not only knows who has been "elected" to be a Christian, God made them that way--sort of hard wired them to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and jump right into …

Predators: Gory, Guy-Fest Movie or Parable of Redemption?

Predators (R)
Starring: Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo, Topher Grace
Directed by:  Nimrod Antal
Produced by: Robert Rodriguez

My oldest son and I took a man-trip recently.  We were supposed to drive to NC to retrieve some furniture.  Since we left late in the day, we decided to drive to Atlanta, get a hotel, see a movie and then drive on to NC the next day.  As it turned out, we had to return home the next morning because of serious thunderstorms that would have ruined whatever furniture we had in the pickup. 

So basically, we ended up spending like $200 for a 16 hour trip to see Predators in a suburban Atlanta mall. 

It was worth it. 

Not because of the movie, but because I got to hang out with my son for 16-plus hours and have a man-moment with him at a movie we wouldn't watch with his mom.

However, the movie was pretty good--even if it wasn't 16-hour trip good.  Predators is the kind of movie that you sort of go see without a lot of expectations.  I've seen all of…

Go Fish: God's Evangelism Mission - Week 1

"We Were All Fish Once"
This week I am preaching on "Evangelism."  I'm actually preaching on "Evangelism" for three weeks as part of a sermon series called "Go Fish." 

Evangelism is one of those words that you just don't hear that much in mainline Protestant churches (you know Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, etc.).  Mainline churches are typically interested in almost every other aspect of Christianity but Evangelism.  Even so-called Evangelical churches have taken to eschewing the word for other words like "Outreach" and "Connections."  

The reason for this is because the word "Evangelism" conjures up all sorts of negative images for so many people.  For my own part, I think about televangelists, door to door "witnessing" and the like.  I remember knocking on doors as a fundamentalist Christian middle schooler and asking people THE question: "If you died right now would you go to …

Evolving in Monkey Town

Evolving In Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask The Questions - Rachel Held Evans, Zondervan (2010)

Rachel Held Evans is the latest in a growing line of bloggers-turned-authors of a certain age (25-35ish) who are coming to grips with their former fundamentalist and/or conservative and/or evangelical Christian upbringing in a postmodern, post-Christian, post-Christendom culture. 

Like Jonathan Acuff, Matthew Turner & Anne Jackson, Evans has used her blog as a source for material for her book, and to stay connected with her fans and readers.  She is a writer, who has had articles in a variety of publications, has worked for newspapers and lives in Dayton, TN with her husband. 

Dayton, TN also happens to be the location of the famous Scopes trial that was held there 80 years ago when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan argued over evolution being taught in public schools.  The trial essentially made a spectacle of Christian fundamentalism, and ended…

You Have To Be There I Guess

The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is underway in Minneapolis.

Every two years Presbyterians of the PC(USA) stripe gather for several days of...  I really am not sure how to describe what happens at our GA gatherings.  I do know that each time we have one we seem to grow a little more divided and a little more irrelevant as a denomination.  But that's just my opinion.

But the people who are there, working, meeting, worshiping and trying to "reason together" as Christian brothers and sisters seem to be enjoying it--or at least are energized by it.

On the first day of GA219, Cynthia Bolbach was elected Moderator for the next 2 years.  She takes over the stole of Moderator from Bruce Reyes-Chow, who was one of the youngest Moderators in recent history (the first from my generation since I became a Presbyterian), and without a doubt the most technologically savvy.  Chow did a great deal to revolutionize the role of the Moderator and his own use of …

Delivering Happiness & Awesome Accessories

Delivering Happiness:  A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh; Business Plus, 2010

I don't buy a lot of shoes, and I have never purchased shoes online.  So I didn't know a lot about! until I had the chance to listen to one of the company's marketing directors speak at the latest Drive Conference at Northpoint Church in Atlanta.  When I mentioned to my wife how awesome I thought the talk had been and how great the company was, she said something like, "Oh yeah, they are incredible!  They offer free shipping if you need to return your shoes if they don't fit!"

I didn't ask how she knew this. 

I was dismayed that I had come to the Zappos table so late, but better late than never.  When I saw that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh had written a book, I pre-ordered it like a huge geek.  It was worth every penny.  Delivering Happiness is more than just a book about Zappos, it is an autobiography of sorts for Hsieh, who makes a point of declaring t…


My best memories of the 4th of July have to be the days when I was in middle school and I went on vacation to visit my mom's family in Greenville, SC.

Fireworks were/are legal in SC and not in FL where I lived/live.  This would account for all of the fireworks stands in SC & GA on the interstate that leads in and out of FL.  I am not sure why I am abbreviating the names of these states, but there you go. 

I remember one summer we went to the fireworks store in Greenville prior to the 4th.  I was given the green light by my mom to spend a certain amount of money on explosives.  This is the kind of green light that every middle school boy wants to receive.  Between all of my cousins we obtained enough fireworks to blow up a small car or a shed.  It was a lot of fireworks.

As soon as it was dark we commenced setting off bottle rockets, Roman candles, spinners, fountains, Black Cats and M-80's.  It was magical. 

In a moment of infinite wisdom I lit a Black Cat firecracker an…