Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Baptizers Beware


Watch the above video from Youtube if you're looking for a good laugh. It's what every middle school boy has dreamed of doing, but this one had the guts to do it.

Baptism is an interesting topic among Christians. It seems to be the equivalent of the debate over whether to eat "unclean" foods in the early church. There are those who cannot fathom how anyone would believe that baptism is NOT essential for salvation; and there are those who just as equally cannot fathom how someone could think that it IS essential for salvation. What a sad issue to be so polarized on. It's a practice given to us by God to physically join in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It's the putting-into-practice Paul's call to offer our bodies as living sacrifices - to die, be buried, and to raise again just as Jesus did. It marks the beginning of a journey; the first step in surrendering one's life to the leading of Jesus. It's unfortunate that so many have used this debate as a platform for their "We're-Better-Than-You" attitude.

A friend at church handed me a copy of Rubel Shelly's "Loving the Person Who Isn't "One of Us."" In it Rubel has these comments concerning baptism:

"I have a dear friend who is pastor of a Pentecostal church. A while back he made this confession to me: 'Rubel, time was that I would not have considered you my brother in Christ because of the way you were baptized. My church tradition took Acts 2:38 to be a 'pattern' that required us to say 'in the name of Jesus Christ' as a verbal formula when we immersed somebody. And because you were baptized 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' I could not honor your baptism.'
Can you imagine it? We both believed that Scripture was the Word of God to humankind. We both confessed Jesus Christ to be Immanuel, God come in the flesh. We had both repented of our sins. We both believed it was necessary to be immersed in water for the remission of sins. But he thought my baptism didn't count because the "formula" somebody said when I was put under the water invoked the Trinity instead of the name of Jesus only! Can you imagine the arrogance of that?
Here's what I told him: 'Dear brother, I felt exactly the same way about you. Because of how I was taught to interpret Acts 2:38, I would not have considered you my brother in Christ. I could not honor your baptism. I can certainly forgive you your arrogance in judging me if you will forgive my arrogance in judging you!'"
What is that?!?!? A Pentecostal quoting Acts 2:38? That's OUR verse. I'm pretty sure Peter had already founded the CofC when he spoke those words. What's a Pentecostal doing using Acts 2:38 to debate baptism with churches of Christ? I'm kidding, of course.
Perhaps the most amazing thing in all this is that this was written back in the 1980's!!! This is new ground for a lot of CofC folks even today, much less in the 80's! Thank you, Rubel, for being a pioneer in leading churches of Christ out of our arrogant exclusivism.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Baby

Yesterday in my sermon I mentioned the story of David taking a census. The reason he took the census was to pat himself on the back, glorify himself, show everyone how mighty he is, etc. It was out of sheer pride. So, God forced him to choose between three years of famine, three months of war, or three days of plague as a way to wipe out some of those David was so proud of.

This morning, I was quite proud of myself for having breakfast served, laundry going, dishes put away, etc. all before 9:00 a.m. So, around 9:10 as I'm giving Titus his bottle I hear "squuuiiirrrttt." And running down the leg of my favorite black track pants is the greenish, brownish ooze that is baby poo. So I hold Titus out straight by his armpits and waddle to the changing table and get him cleaned up. Around 9:20 after getting everyone cleaned up I feel a warm wetness on my shirt. Yup, spit up. But not just regular spit up, we're talking the entire 4 ounces he just drank, mostly curdled, are now soaking through my shirt.

It would seem God has a way of humbling you no matter what you're feeling prideful about.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tired, Hungry, and Loving Life

This weekend our youth ministry participated in a nation-wide event called 30-Hour Famine. Starting Friday at 12:30 p.m., we fasted for 30 hours, ending Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. This is to raise money for and awareness of the millions upon millions (852 million to be exact) starving and malnourished people around the world. Our teens spent the last month raising money, and today we spent the day serving the community. It was a draining, trying, emotional, powerful weekend. The best part is that our teens now have a first-hand feeling for what it's like to be hungry, and how appreciative you are when you're finally able to eat.

This is the lifestyle Jesus has called us all to live. I don't know what your thoughts are on helping people - all people - when they're in need, but as I read through the gospels the thing I find time and time again is Jesus loving the unlovable and serving "the least of these." If, as people of God, we're not there to help anyone at all who has a need, what ARE we doing?

The reason we participated in 30-Hour Famine was to go without food so someone else could eat. Essentially that's the theology of being a servant - making a sacrifice to make someone else's life a little easier. When was the last time you sacrificed something (time, money, comfort, food, etc.) to make someone else's day a little easier? If we're to be like Jesus, this cannot be an occasional event, it must be a lifestyle, it must be the way we see the world, the needy, the lost.

If you're wanting to check out what 30-Hour Famine is all about, you can go to www.worldvision.com or www.30hourfamine.org. I also heard recently about an interesting organization called Heifer International. Through this organization you can actually purchase livestock for a family in a developing nation. A heifer, which produces 4 gallons of milk each DAY, only costs $600. Other animals like a pig, a goat, a family of geese, a family of rabbits, etc., range in price from $20-$60. What an amazing idea!!

Do whatever you can this week to be a part of making someone else's life a little easier. In doing so, you'll find life to be a little more sweet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

School outlaws playing "Tag"

Read this:


I had Fox News on today and I caught the tail end of a line on the ticker. It was about the story above. A school in Massachusetts has deemed games such as "Tag" and touch football against the rules during their recess hour (unless they're supervised). I'm not sure what the punishment is, but children at this school can no longer run through the playground trying to tag their friends unless an adult is nearby to watch.

The reason, as you might suspect, is that they're concerned about the children getting hurt and the parents suing the school. I see only three reasons why this could possibly be a good idea:

1. Children in Massachusetts are more prone to serious, life-threatening injury than are "normal" children EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD. Perhaps these children suffer from conditions unknown to the world outside this New England state and really DO require constant supervision, lest they fall and scrape a knee, sprain a wrist, or stain a shirt, leading to certain hospitalization in a prestigious ICU with world-renowned physicians, leaving parents with little choice BUT to sue for the mountain of hospital bills incurred through this horrific experience.

2. "Tag" and Touch Football no longer carry the same meaning as they did 20 or so years ago when I was frolicking through the brown grasses of the Reagan Elementary School playground. Now, when you "Tag" your friend, that actually means you stab them in a non-vital area of the body with a switchblade. This new version of "Tag" not only has parents alarmed, but has them fearing for the lives of their children! This once innocent playground game now leaves children bleeding profusely through their $90 Lacoste shirts.

3. Many childrens parents' at this school are doctors, doctors who have been victims of frivolous lawsuits, mostly from the parents of other children at this school. Suing because their child fell while playing "Tag" is their way of saying, "See, how does THAT feel?"

Other than these three reasons, I can really see no logical explanation for outlawing "Tag," touch football, or any other children's games.

Any thoughts?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Privacy in America


The above link is to a story on MSNBC.com about our privacy in America. The question is, "Does anyone care about their privacy?" As the story suggests, American polls say one thing (60% in a recent poll said they're concerned about their privacy slipping away) and their actions say something different (only 7% in another poll said they're concerned enough to do something about it).

Honestly, I've never been that concerned with the whole privacy issue. When Bush came under scrutiny for allegedly listening to American's phone calls, my reaction was, "Okay." Do people really have that much to hide? Sometimes I wonder if I'm just out of touch; maybe other people have things to hide and I'm the only one who doesn't. Maybe I need to get myself some secrets. I know identity theft can be a problem, but if someone takes my identity, they won't get all that far. It's not like I have outstanding credit to begin with (should've listened to my dad about not having credit cards in college), and it's not like I have a large, or even mediocre, nest egg set aside somewhere. And my personal life is an open book. Being in ministry means I live in a fishbowl - there's very little about my life that at least a few don't know about.

My question is, are any of you out there worried about the privacy issue? Do any of you go to any lengths, great or otherwise, to protect your privacy?
- Do you keep your number unlisted?
- Do you shred your junk mail?
- Do you write "Check ID" on the back of all your credit cards?
- Do you have added security on your email inbox?
- Do you take a different path to work each day?
- Are your phone conversations spoken in secret code that only you and the listener are aware of?
- Do you regularly pat people down when they leave your house, making sure they haven't swiped a bill laying around?
- Have you scheduled a date to have your fingerprints surgically altered just to keep things fresh?

You know, normal things like that? What do you do to protect your privacy?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I Was Just Thinking

I'm currently reading Brian McLaren's book, "A New Kind of Christian" in which he lays out what he believes an effective Christian will look like as we continue to develop this postmodern culture we've been living in for a decade or so now. It's written like a fictional story about a pastor struggling with his responsibilities to keep the status quo and still preach his beliefs, passions, and true heart.

I'll quickly explain something the book has me thinking about. In the modern era (1950's-1980's or 90'), everyone was concerned with being "right." It was Science vs. Faith, Christians vs. other religions, and, sadly, Christians vs. other Christians. Every debate, every discussion, every moment spent studying one side or another was for the sole purpose of proving the other side wrong. Relationship was lost in the war to be right. This created a real and perceived sense of hate, rejection, exclusivity, and fear of acceptance. Everything was "Us vs. Them."

In the postmodern era the cultural discussion has moved from "Who's right?" to "Who cares?" It is really insignificant WHAT we can prove or disprove about Christianity; now all people want to know is, right or wrong, why they should invest themselves in it. What is it about Jesus that would make them want to "take up their cross and follow?"This really leads us into an entirely new approach to sharing the love of Jesus with the lost.

First, there can no longer be a line separating "Us" and "Them." Gay, lesbian, bisexual, alcoholic, druggie, Islamic, Hindu, it makes no difference - we cannot presume that we are somehow better or more worthy than they are. We can only assume that we are the same - flawed humans searching for truth. So rather than approaching these people with "Here's what you're doing that's wrong..." our approach ought to be, "Can I share why my relationship with Jesus matters to me?" Of course this requires actually having a good relationship with the person, which requires NOT being a snot-nosed, holier-than-thou, I-know-something-you-don't-know, Christian. This requires actually caring for the lost, and showing that care through our actions. This requires churches to make the hard decision to embrace those who don't really fit, and care for the communities in which they operate even if those receiving care never come to a worship time. This can't be done just for show or to prove a point, it must be done because we are the same as everyone else in need only we serve a risen Savior who has called us to share His love with the lost.

Second, if approached correctly, postmodernity should further unite Christians with the cause of sharing the love, grace, and life-changing power of Jesus with the lost. We can do away with our debating; we can lay to rest the issues of instrumental music, inerrancy of Scripture, etc.; and we can minister to the lost rather than berate them, or worse, ignore them. Postmodernity could quite possibly be the greatest thing to ever unite the Church (unless we screw this up too). Imagine being more concerned with what a church is doing to share the love of Jesus than what they do during their worship hour. Imagine gathering once a month with the local churches in your community - the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterian, etc. - to worship God and discuss how to further impact the community where you all worship in the name of Jesus. Wow - what an amazing world that would be.

Anyway, I was just thinking.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Some Random Things

I don't really have anything to write about, but in order to keep fresh, I'll share these random things with you:

1. Levi and I have been playing a lot of "Ark." With this game we take all of his animals inside his plastic Noah's ark and line them up in the living room. Then, one-by-one, they all go to a plastic tree to get their "tickets" to ride on the Ark. Even Noah and his wife have to get tickets. Each time they have to hurry because "the rain is coming." The funny thing is that he never lets his dinosaur toys on the Ark. Maybe that IS how the dinosaurs became extinct!!!

2. Tonight we went to a high school football game with two guys from the youth group (Deep Run Wildcats vs. Freeman Rebels). It was 40 degrees outside and I saw my breath for the first time since early March. It was fun to be out in the cold weather again.

3. I got into a "blog war" recently with a guy who is convinced that Dennis Eckersley is the greatest closer of all time (the closer is the guy in baseball who comes in at the end of the game when his team is winning). I think (along with everyone else who knows ANYTHING about baseball) that honor goes to Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. I think I ended it today though. It was taking up a LOT of my time because I was constantly looking up stats, histories, etc. I rather enjoyed it, but I suppose I also need to work and be with my son.

4. I've just about finished reading the book "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." It's the story of the hiker that amputated his own arm after getting trapped by a boulder. I highly recommend the book, although it can get a bit long in parts because he describes everything in incredibly precise detail. But reading about the way his body reacted to being trapped for almost six days, and what it finally took to drive him to cut off his own arm, are amazing to read. I don't know, I guess maybe I could do it. Easy to say on this side of the story.

5. I'm still a little disappointed by the Yankees early exit from the playoffs, but I've enjoyed watching baseball games for the sake of seeing good baseball, not to cheer for one team or another. Right now the Mets and Cardinals are in a great battle. The Tigers are up 3 games to none on the A's, and the Mets are up 1 game to none on the Cardinals. My World Series prediction is Tigers vs. Mets, with the Tigers winning in 5 games. Their pitching is just way too good.

6. I really, REALLY, miss my wife and Titus. I'm ready for them to be home; although I really am enjoying my time with Levi. If any of you are reading this at ACU's homecoming, have a great time. And if you run into Christina and Titus, tell them I said hello. Oh, and if you see Royce Money, tell him Cory says, "What's up". He'll understand.

Okay, bedtime.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mom's Have It Rough

Today is one of those days that makes me appreciate stay-at-home mom's.

Just before lunch I was changing Titus' diaper when Levi said he needed to go poopoo. So I told him to go and I would be there shortly after to help. While I have his old diaper off, getting ready to put the new one on, Titus decides that HE needs to go poopoo too. *****WARNING: THE SQUEEMISH AND EASILY DISGUSTED SHOULD STOP READING NOW*****So he launches the greenish-brown, mostly liquid baby poo across the changing pad and all over my hand (actually the new diaper managed to catch a good amount of it). I let out a long "Ooooohhhh maaaaaannnnn." Levi, having decided he did NOT need to go poopoo, hears my distress and comes in asking, "What's the matter?" I said, "Titus pooped on my hand." As I say this I look down to see Levi's hands solid white and his hair streaked with the same white color. I said, what's on your hands and in your hair?"

Any guesses?

Toothpaste. He'd squeezed toothpaste into his hands, which he smeared like soap, then he ran his hands through his hair as though it was shampoo.

I got everyone cleaned up, fed and ready to relax for the afternoon. I got Levi to lay down and went to get Titus out of his swing. He was sleeping so I was trying to be as quiet as possible. When I lifted the front tray, I pinched my middle finger between the tray and the swing and let out an "Aggghhhh!!!!!" It scared Titus and he woke up in a frightened fit.

So I walked with him for a while trying to get him to go to sleep. I was doing laundry and he started dozing off again. The washer got off-balanced so I went to try and correct and when I did - while still holding Titus - my index finger on my right hand got smashed when the washer jerked from being off-balanced. Again, I let out another, "Aggghhhh!!!!!" Again, Titus woke up crying.

Now Titus is sleeping in his crib and Levi is asking to get out of bed even though rest time is not over. I was hoping to have the house cleaned and sit outside in the 60-degree sunshine and read my book this afternoon. Something tells me that won't happen. I admire you mom's who make this look so easy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

O Dear Christian College We Love You

I agree with the first line of ACU's Alma Mater: "O dear Christian College we love you." Last night Hank Bingham, a recruiter from Harding University, visited 3Chopt and spoke briefly with our high schoolers about Harding and Christian education. It brought back lots and lots of memories from my ACU days. Here are a few:

- Campus police being called on Sean Morris our freshman year because he climbed out on the 2nd floor ledge of McKenzie hall to try and break in to Matt Tapie's room. Meanwhile about 10 of us tried, unsuccessfuly, to pick the lock on his door so we could throw him in the fountain on his birthday.

- Tony Stidham's roommate, Brad, dumping a 50-gallon trashcan full of cold water on Lane (can't remember his last name) after Lane thought he poured cold water on Brad. Brad was hiding in a different shower stall while Lane poured the water into the stall he thought Brad was in.

- Trying to flip Charlie Thyne in Aaron Forrester's front yard, but instead he slipped off my hand, landed on the back of his head and had to be taken to the hospital with a concussion.

- Holding Toby Burge's freshman roommate's (can't remember his name, either) pez dispensers hostage until he sat alone in an empty section during chapel with a basket full of dirty laundry.

- Scott Kilmer frequently riding his bike up and down the hall of Smith-Adams ringing the little bell. Oh, he was also .

- Dr. Ervin (or Erwin) Seamster's legendary chapel speech: "With some joy over here, and some joy over there; here's some joy, there's some joy, everywhere is joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy! Joy!

- Sandwiches and bar-b-que chicken at the Willis' on Sunday nights.

- Watching "The Blair Witch Project" with Fudge, Sean, and Sascha in our townhouse at 2:00 in the morning. Sean punched Sascha in the jaw out of fear and reflex when he scared us at the top of the stairs.

- Meeting Kilmer, Stacy Dow, and a few other guys at Joe Allen's on Wednesday nights before church at Highland.

- Spring Break campaign to Orlando

- Spring Break trip to Estes Park, CO where we stayed in a REALLY nice cabin, skiied, snowmobiled, went horseback riding, and some fools drove all the way to Nashville afterward.

- Breaking into a certain UP apartment and filling some s' sinks with catfood (and various other juvenile, yet hilarious, pranks).

- Full-contact basketball on our Nerf hoop in our living room with Craig, Mark Wiebe, and Wiley James Bagley. Our other roommate never seemed to want to play. What's that all about, Richard?

- Going spotlighting for rabbits and other rodents at my uncle's ranch south of Abilene with Craig and Sascha. We took my two-door Sunfire and decided that we could probably go off-road in it to chase our prey. Sascha even laid on the roof when it was his turn, and he almost shot my front end off when a rabbit ran right at us.

- Going deer hunting on Klein Reid's property with Craig and Wiley James Bagley. I won the coin flip to take the first shot, but when I had one I froze. We never saw another deer again that day.

- Preaching at the church on N. 21st and being asked to leave (oh what an experience THAT was)

- Preaching in Lohn (Bill and Ivadell Huffman just celebrated their 65th anniversary, by the way)

- The first cold day of winter

- The first warm day of spring

- Chicken & Dumplins, two big rolls, a salad, and two big, cold glasses of whole milk - my favorite meal in The Bean.

I'm starting to realize I could go on and on. I'm always jealous of the teens who graduate from our youth ministry and go on to college because I know that they're in for some of the greatest years of their lives. Yet I also appreciate the fact that it's now behind me, and the things I learned about myself, about life, and about my faith are leading me to even greater moments and even more memories.

What memories do you have from college?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ordinary Days

I try to write in this blog on a fairly regular basis because, among many other reasons, I find it keeps me aware of everything, even the slightest things, that might spark some deeper thoughts and discussions. However, over the last several days I've had nothing. Things have been too ordinary; I've had nothing blog-worthy. For instance, today I took Levi to preschool, did laundry while Titus slept, chased a neighborhood dog back to his house, got Levi from school, and here I am writing while both boys are napping. Who wants to read about that?

It reminds me of one of my favorite Jars of Clay songs called Ordinary Days. One of the first lines is "I get tired of walking through these ordinary days." Sometimes I truly do too. I can
grow weary of what an old friend calls the dailyness of life. Maybe I'm spoiled to live a usually-exciting life, so when "nothing" is happening I notice it more. Who knows?

But what it's got me thinking about is how UNordinary God is. When our lives are like a stagnant pond, God is a rushing river, flowing wherever He would like, cleansing and refreshing. There is nothing simple or ordinary about God. There's no same-ness with Him. Every encounter is fresh, each touch of the Spirit is enlightening, and His mercies are new every morning. Perhaps I ought to spend a little more time with God to escape my ordinary days.

On a completely unrelated note, I have a quick story to share about Levi:

This afternoon I was changing Titus' diaper when Levi came in the room and said, "Uh oh, Daddy."

"What's 'uh-oh,' pal?" I asked.

"I made a mess with my water."

We went into the kitchen and he showed me a puddle of water on the floor. I asked him how he made the mess and he showed me by gargling his water. (You should know that we have a rule that he cannot gargle water unless he's in the bathtub. Yes, we actually had to make a rule about it) I asked why he was gargling water in the kitchen.

"I thought it was the bathtub," he said.

"Levi, is that the truth?" I asked.

After going around and around with him sticking to his story that he thought the kitchen was, in fact, the bathtub, I finally reminded him that he gets a spanking when he doesn't tell the truth. I offered one final chance for him to admit that he did NOT think the kitchen was the bathtub and he said:

"But Daddy, remember how Jesus loves me when I'm bad, but it makes Him very sad."

I hesitated for a moment, trying not to laugh. I guess he thought I hesitated because I was trying to remember this rule. So he proceeds to sing: "Jesus loves me when I'm good, when I do the things I should. (Louder and slower) Jesus loves me when I'm bad, but it makes Him very sad."

"Remember, Daddy?"

How can you spank a kid after a showing like that?