Monday, March 26, 2007


Responding to good points...

The really professional bloggers respond to comments as part of an ongoing communication stream. However, those of us who think the comments are sometimes better than the original post are slower to respond. I have been struck by some of the comments from the last couple of posts and thought I would take a minute to respond.

I am convinced it is the parent's job to ensure that their children have faith. Don't expect the church to do your job for you. In fact, the most important job of a parent is to impart faith to their children. No matter what your children accomplish in academics, athletics, or in their chosen career...if they do not have faith you will not have succeeded as a parent. If they have faith, nothing else will really matter. So don't blame the church, don't get mad at the youth minister, don't count on a program to do your job.

Having said that, I will say the church should be intentional about equipping parents. We should try to provide resources that assist parents. And we should make provision for young people that do not have Christian parents. This would include converts, and includes young people whose parents are members, but not faithful.

I also need to comment on the political blog from the other day. I think I would not argue that both polical parties are Christian. In fact, I would argue that neither party is Christian. I would even be hesitant as a Christian to identify myself too strongly with any political party. Personally, I am hesitant to identify too strongly with any country. After all, this world is not my home.

Finally, I was one overtime game from nailing the final four. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Politics and religion...

I saw a new survey the other day from the Barna Group. Popular opinion seems to think that Republicans are the Christian party, especially for "born again evangelicals". The data from sure seems to support that: more Republicans than Democrats believe the Bible is accurate, attend church, share their faith, etc. So there you have it: Republicans are more Christian than Democrats.

EXCEPT: on issues like Bible reading, prayer or church volunteer work...the numbers were almost the same. So what do you make of that? Do Republicans just talk a better game about Jesus? Are Democrats actually religious and don't want to admit it?

Or could it be that Republicans are like most people in our society? They claim to be Christians but it really makes no real difference in how they live. God calls us to live lives that are different from the world. We will never be perfect, but we will live forgiven.

And maybe God isn't a Republican or a Democrat. Maybe He isn't even an American.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Final Four...

It's that time of year again. It absolutely may be my favorite sports event. It's March Madness. I like it because every game means something. I like it because every year some underdog team makes a run. I like it because you get to watch the incredible emotion of every game. So if you do not like sports at all, give this one a try. Watch a few games. Fill out a bracket (and almost every school, work, or group of friends has one going).

My final four picks: Florida, UCLA, Ohio State, and North Carolina (I really wanted to pick my Arkansas Razorbacks here but they are too inconsistant even for me). And yes, I thought about Texas here but they are so young. Florida over Ohio State.

I'm rooting hard for Arkansas, Xavier, Nevada, Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, Winthrop, and Butler. I hope A&M and the SEC schools do well.

And if you don't follow this at all, what do you do for the next three weekends?

Monday, March 12, 2007


Save our young people...

I can still remember the discussions about losing our young people. Church wasn't connecting, young people were leaving the church, we were just not relevent. We needed new and different, even radical, ideas. That was forty years ago and I was one of the young people. And our church was one of the very first to come up with the answer: full-time youth ministers. It wasn't long before every church had one. I even spent several years working as a full-time youth minister.

Of course, I still am in discussions about losing our young people. Everyone worries that we are not connecting with our young people, that they are leaving the church, and that we are just not relevent. So someone will come up with the next answer: cluster models, instrumental services, interactive worship.

And forty years from now you will be having the same discussion. I wonder if some of our young people don't really develop faith and that's why they end up leaving. They were never really with us to begin with. So we better get better youth ministers, or better programs, or more appealling worship, or whatever other answers we can find.

After all, I wouldn't want someone to think that maybe it was my responsibility as a parent to give my child faith. Maybe the key is not what happens at church or in the youth program...but what happens in the home. In fact, if the emphasis on professional youth ministry actually took the responsibility away from parents then our "answer" may have just compounded the problem.

So here is my question: what made some of you stay faithful?

Friday, March 09, 2007


Minimum acceptable standards...

I hurt Marsha's feelings last night. She was finishing up in the kitchen and expressed how she wished she had help. I kindly pointed out that I had put up many of items from supper. But evidently I didn't finish the job. What did she expect? If I didn't do enough, shouldn't the expectations be spelled out exactly. After all, shouldn't it be a 50-50 deal. Boy, I'm as bad as some of our kids.

I love to hear kids negotiate with parents. How many peas do I have to eat? If I go to bed, do I have to go to sleep? I may not have been in the house at curfew, but I was in the driveway. Define "clean your room". Sometimes they are so cute and endearing, sometimes these arguements are frustrating and irritating, and sometimes they are manipulative and insulting.

I wonder how God feels when we play that same game.

Do I have to go to church every Sunday? Do I tithe out of the gross or the net? How do you define sex? And on and on we go.

You know what the purpose of these questions is, don't you? We are looking for the minimum acceptable standard to "pass" the Christianity course. Or we want to see how close we can get to the line without crossing it.

And that is foreign to the concept of grace, faith, love, and dying to self to live for Jesus.

So I am examining my life to see where I am "cutting corners". I don't want to live that way. Maybe I ought to finish the job, maybe it's 100% all the time. Maybe I shouldn't have to ask, or get defensive. Maybe I ought to quit looking for the "passing grade".

How about you?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Sermon illustrations...

It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Since I was going to talk about no longer being infants spiritually I would introduce the lesson by introducing Jake, my 15 month old, solid as a rock, grandson. Many of you were there, you remember how this went. He was so good during the intro, I just thought I would keep him with me the whole lesson. Halfway thru my arm started cramping. I had Jake in my right arm, but a mike on my left and a Bible in my left hand. So there we were. Soon sweat popped out on my head, Jake got heavier, tragedy was approaching. "Please Jake, cry for Mommy, Daddy, or Mimi...Pops will never make it."

By the end, it was close the Bible and use my left hand to prop up my right. And good ol' Jake just hung in there. He looked at you, he looked at me, he even looked at his folks. But he was happy to stay with Pops. It made me think of lots of other things in life. Like commitments I rashly make and then have to struggle to keep. And the people more than three rows back probably couldn't even tell how hard it was. And I was too proud to ask for help. Boy, I wonder if that fits any of the rest of my life. You know, harder than it looks and too proud to ask for help.

And I sure didn't want to drop Jake. He never knew how tough it was. I hope I never let him down. There are probably lots of people in my life counting on me not to drop them.

But you know what? It was fun. By now, I'm not even sore any more. All I remember is how much fun it was to preach with Jake. Someday in heaven all I'm going to remember is how happy I am...I may not even remember the hard times.

So maybe it was a pretty good sermon illustration after all.

For me.

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