Friday, October 31, 2008

You can vote however you like

I know some believe differently, but I think that you can be a Christian and vote right or left.

What really bothers me is how angry, passionate, even hateful that people get about politics. I am especially disappointed when Christians become so judgemental and extreme. Groups like Focus on the Family have gone way over the top in my mind.

That being said, I enjoyed this video. Kids reminding us that talking politics can be intellectually engaging, but also fun and relational, not mean spirited and hateful.

When it comes down to it, you can vote for whoever you see fit as the best leader. I can still respect you. I can still be your friend. We can still go to church together. God is on the throne today and He will still be on the throne on November 5th. I hope that you are not so tense about this thing that you cannot enjoy this fun, non-partisan song.

Anyone else tired of all the hate in politics?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

History of Planned Parenthood

The history of Planned Parenthood and its targetting of the poor and often black community in America has always been a huge issue of justice for me. Barack Obama's lack of any type of real conviction on this issue is one of the most disapointing aspects of his presidental platform to me. Not that McCain is a wiz on these issues either.

Have you been disappointed with Barack's stances and opinions about abortion?

Concern for the poor

I just returned from the CCDA annual conference. The CCDA spends a lot of time and attention seeking to bring the love of Christ to the “poor”. I have heard other Christians say that there is no mandate to care for the poor.

Do you think that Christians have a responsibility to care for the poor in society?

What Biblical evidence to you have?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A man who loves his family

I saw this first on my friend Chris Brook's blog. Of all the things that I would like to be, I hope that people know me as a man who loves his family.

Monday, October 27, 2008


"If you are going to lead the orchestra, then you are going to have to turn your back on the crowd".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

African Proverb

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

A theology of celebration vs. suffering

Earlier this year, I heard Soong Chan Rah speak and was so challenged and intrigued that I decided to attend his workshop. He talked about a theology of celebration and a theology of suffering and how they look very different. It is fascinating. It is eye opening. It is convicting.

One thing that I have realized is that white evangelical Christians (of which I am one) do not like to be told that our theology is wrong or in this case incomplete. We feel defensive and want to argue the point.

Dr. Rah talked about a theology that does not understand suffering is incomplete. He challenged us that we need to learn from each other and realize that if we do not than we are left with bad theology. So the racial divide that often exists within the church is not only a problem by itself, but it also creates an incomplete (wrong) theology. So we must know and engage each other across racial and economic because we have so much to learn from each other.

Most minorities in America are OK with the fact that they have things that they must learn from white Christians. A large majority of white Christians in our country have no thought that they have something to learn from Christians outside there race. Often they don’t seek out those relationships, because they feel they get all that they need spiritually within there own race.

I understand that I am painting with a broad brush here without being able to flesh it all out, but it is long past time that the “white church” in America begins to learn from the “Latino”, “Asian”, or “Black” church.

I know that I personally have been so blessed by the instruction that I have received and the relationships that I have built outside my ethnic heritage. It has enriched my theology and sometimes even changed it. It has given me a different perspective on the world. It has humbled me. It has reminded me that I have so much to learn.

Have you ever been around people who think very different than you and realized that some of what you had thought was wrong?

A challenge to keep Christ central

Coach Wayne Gordon spoke this morning at the conference. He started out as his usually energetic self, but then became very serious and said that he wanted to share what was heavy on his heart about CCDA. He said that he wanted to warn us as an association about some things that could become detrimental to the work. There were three things that he talked about:
• Charisma without character is catastrophic.
• Bigger is not necessarily better.
• Success without spiritual depth is superficial.

The first one was a reminder that just having good leadership and energy is not enough. The character of the individual is vitally more important than anything else.

The second one was a warning about not believing that because something is big it is the best way. The opposite of that is that just because something is small does not mean that God is not at work and doing amazing things.

The last one was a key. He challenged us personally to be people of great spiritual depth. To not be doers, doers, doers who were not really close to God personally. This is such an important warning for the busy urban minister who has a million “urgent” needs always in front of them. It was a reminder to not build “kingdoms” or “ministries” that look for successful, but lack real spiritual depth. He challenged everyone to spend at least sixty minutes every day alone with God. He talked about spending at least five minutes of that in silence. I know that I struggle to take this time alone with God.

We were warned not to put Christ on the “margins of the page”, but to put him at the top of the page. It was a clear reminder that all that we do should be centered around Christ. We were reminded that we should not spend all of our time talking about our programs and never talk about the significance of Christ in what we are doing.

I appreciated the emphasis that he gave today and hope that all who were present have ears to hear.

Have you seen charisma take people far while they obviously lacked character?

Do you find yourself believing the lie that bigger is better?

Is God using you to be “successful” in serving Him, but without a real spiritual depth to that work?

CCDA Conference

I’m excited to be in Miami, FL for the annual Christian Community Development Association conference. It is a bit disappointing that I have been here more than twenty-four hours and have still not seen sunshine. It is raining right now. But the conference is full of encouragement, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and challenging instruction. I look forward to all the ways that God will stretch me and renew me while I am here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

GIVING when times are tough

All of the talk lately in the media is about the economy. I have been thinking about how this affects peoples giving. People’s giving habits can have a great affect on the lives of others. At our church, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, we have no paid staff, no building, no real overhead cost so a decrease in giving only affects what we are able to do.

But many churches and organizations are dependant on people’s generosity. In a small organization like Vision Nehemiah where I work, if people don’t give then we can’t make payroll (which unfortunately is the case right now). For the PURSUE program that I lead, if I can’t find people to give towards our scholarships, then we will have less scholarships to offer which could keep students from going to college. I also think of my friends at Breakthrough Urban Ministries where my wife works. They have two sites and over 50 people on staff. If people don’t give, then they will not only have to cut services, but they would also have to let go of staff.

That leads me to my thoughts about giving. Some of these things are my personal struggle in being generous when times are tough economically. So let me begin with a question.

Do we give first or do we give out of what is left over?

It seems to me that we have often given out of our abundance. After the bills are paid and we get what we “need”, then we give. As I consider this, I think of I Corinthians 16 where Paul challenges the Corinthian church to set aside money at the beginning of each week. I also had to look at II Corinthians 8,9 where Paul spends a couple of chapters talking about giving.

It seems to me that a main purpose in giving was to share in God’s resources so that there could be equality in the body of Christ. II Corinthians 8:13-15 says:
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
It almost sounds like a voluntary Christian socialism, but I will leave that point alone.

I see in chapter 9 verse 6 that “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

And also in verse 7 that giving is more about the attitude than the amount.
“man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

My favorite verses in these two chapters are verses 12,13 of chapter 9.
“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

This is what excites me most about giving. Not only that it meets needs, but also that it will validate to a watching world the faith that we claim. Wow.
So I am going to strive to be a giver despite the economic outlook. I guess that is more where faith begins in the giving process, when you can’t see how it can all work out outside of divine intervention.

How has the current economic situation affected your giving?
What has God taught you about giving over the years?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A culture of disrespect

Whether you like George W. Bush or not, he is still the president of the United States of America. I think that it is completely shameful that a movie would come out mocking a sitting president. W. opens in theaters tonight and I hope that no one shows up.

It is very disappointing to me that U.S. citizens would participate in this total disrespect of the office of the presidency. Other nations around the would must sit back and laugh at how we have shamed ourselves. We are a nation that lacks respect for authority. We lack respect for our history. We lack respect for the position of leadership that is the presidency of the United States. It is one thing to respectfully disagree with decisions and policies. It is quite another thing to disrespect authority.

I think that this attitude will continue no matter who is leading. People no longer have a basic respect for authority. Our generation seems to have little concern for respectfully disagreeing.

To what extent should we respect the authorities that God has placed over us?
(Parents, teachers, boss, police, government, pastors, etc.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to school

I am taking the big step of returning to school. I have applied and been accepted into a graduate program at Wheaton College. The program is Christian formation and ministry. I also have been awarded a full tuition scholarship through the Billy Graham Center for my involvement in Urban Ministry.

I am both excited and hesitant about this opportunity. I love to learn and look forward to the chance to be back in a classroom in the academic setting. I also am very grateful for the blessing from God of the scholarship that I have received. But I know that I already have a lot on my plate and wonder how this will fit in with all that. My prayer is that God will give me balance with being a husband, father, elder/pastor, coordinating PURSUE, and student.

I hope that this program will not just benefit me personally, but also my church and community.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the mouths of children

A little boy was overheard praying: 'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'

After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'

A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'

A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'

A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' 'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'

Anyone else have any stories of funny things that you have heard children say?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'll take half!

A sad picture of where a bitter divorce can lead. This Cambodian couple decided to saw their home in half and he moved his portion.
What are your thoughts on divorce?
Is it always wrong according to the Bible? Is it ever OK?
How do you see divorce being destructive?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughts for our financial situation

Matthew 6:25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Does anyone else think this relates to our current situation?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Sometimes we can make our children's sports more of a priority than they should be.

"If I teach my son to keep his eye on the ball, but fail to teach him to keep his eyes on Christ, then I have failed him as a father."
Voddie Baucham

Questions for Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren continues to write books and speak on his ideas about post modern theology and ideology. A recent Christianity Today article by Scot McKnight shares positively about McLaren, but then asks some questions in three areas.


McKnight ask what is the problem with having some answers. What is the problem with clarity?

McKnight takes issue with McLaren's reducing the act and message of the cross to a protest against violence.

McKnight questions why McLaren emphasizes the kingdom of God without ever talking about the church as the agent God uses to initiate the kingdom.

I found the article quite fair and reasonable. These are questions that demand answers. McLaren cannot simply rewrite the message of the cross and expect that everyone is just supposed to fall in line or have no questions. I pray that McLaren would answer these "questions from a friend" and return to a sound doctrine and the whole message of the gospel.

Have you read McKnight's article?

Do you think that the questions that he is asking need to be answered or are they unimportant?

How should the church of today respond to McLaren and his writings and teaching?

God speaks

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is hip hop music angry in tone?

Sorry for the absence from posting. I have had a lot going on.

I came across an excellent conversation on between John McWhorter and Ta-Nahisi Coates that began by discussing hip hop music and then ventured into the role of race in our nation. I would highly suggest taking the time to listen if you are interested in the influence of hip hop music or on issues of race. You can find it here. I am a big fan of McWhorter's books and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he said, but also found great insight from the perspective that Coates offered.

One of the points that McWhorter makes is that a key element or central ingredient to the genre of music that is hip hop is anger/rebellion/a sense of disrespect of authority. Because of that, he suggests that although it may express emotion it offers little in terms of solutions.

What do you think? Is hip hop music, at its roots, angry?